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Press Release

Perpetrator Of Catfishing Scheme Charged With Extortion, Cyberstalking, And Interstate Threats

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced the unsealing of a three-count Indictment charging defendant SAKOYA BLACKWOOD with interstate communications with the intent to extort, cyberstalking, and extortion.  The defendant was arrested yesterday and presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jennifer Willis in federal court in Manhattan.  The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said:  “No one should have to fear public humiliation and financial loss from the release of personal, private information.  As alleged, Sakoya Blackwood created that very fear and sought to capitalize on it for her own personal gain.  I commend the victim for reporting this alleged criminal activity and encourage anyone else who believes they may have been a victim of this scheme to contact the FBI.”    

FBI Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll said:  "Most people hope for a personal human connection in life, and scam artists twist that desire into illicit schemes to steal more than hearts. We believe Blackwood used tactics we allege in this indictment to blackmail and extort money from other victims.  We are asking those people to contact us so we can help them but also to ensure no one else ever falls victim to Blackwood's alleged deception."

As alleged in the Indictment unsealed yesterday in Manhattan federal court and statements made in court:[1]

The defendant used multiple online identities to target wealthy and high-profile men in a catfishing and extortion scheme.  In particular, as alleged in Count One, BLACKWOOD made threats against the Chief Executive Officer of a publicly traded company, identified in the Indictment as “Victim-1,” and threatened to release sexually explicit photographs and communications involving Victim-1 with the intent to extort.  BLACKWOOD engaged in a campaign of harassment against Victim-1, sending numerous intimidating and threatening text messages.  BLACKWOOD also used threats of economic and reputational harm from the release of the sexually explicit communications and photographs in an attempt to obtain payments from Victim-1.  As indicated in the Indictment, BLACKWOOD targeted multiple other victims as part of this catfishing and extortion scheme.

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BLACKWOOD, 34, of the Bronx, New York, is charged with one count of making interstate communications with intent to extort, which carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison; one count of cyberstalking, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; and one count of extortion, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.

The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Mollie Bracewell and Justin Rodriguez are in charge of the prosecution.

If you believe you are a victim of this offense, please contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL FBI, and reference this case.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty


[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment constitutes only allegations, and every fact described herein should be treated as an allegation.


Nicholas Biase
(212) 637-2600

Updated September 1, 2022

Press Release Number: 22-274