Columbus man pleads guilty to crimes related to sexually exploiting & sextorting more than 25 identified victims
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Ohio
Defendant who targeted girls in his Columbus high school faces 23 to 27 years in prison
COLUMBUS, Ohio – A Columbus man pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court today to crimes related to sexually exploiting and sextorting more than 25 known victims in at least three states.
Lorenzo A. Winfield, 22, of Columbus, pleaded guilty to sexually exploiting minors, possessing child pornography and communicating interstate with the intent to extort. As part of his plea, the parties involved have recommended a sentence of 23 to 27 years in prison.
According to court documents, from at least 2016 until 2021, Winfield used extortion to solicit and collect explicit photos of underage girls at his Columbus high school, the Arts and College Preparatory Academy (ACPA), where he was known as the “ACPA Hacker”.
Winfield would contact students at ACPA and demand nude photographs of them. He would also hack into victims’ social media accounts and use the photos he obtained against them. Winfield would further tell the victims he had nude photos of them or other students that he would distribute to friends or family unless the victims complied. On numerous occasions, Winfield followed through on these threats, distributing sexually explicit photos of his victims to others to prove he was serious with his threats in a bid to contain more content. In addition, Winfield told the victims to send him sexually explicit images or videos in order to regain control of their own social media accounts.
Winfield used several social media accounts of his own to participate in the exploitation and extortion of the victims that have been identified thus far. His accounts were active across platforms such as Discord, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Skype and Google Hangouts.
Winfield was separately investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office for extorting and exploiting at least four victims in Fairfax and Prince William counties in Virginia.
For example, one identified victim was approximately 11 years old at the time Winfield first made contact with her. Winfield sent nude photos of the victim to students at a Virginia middle school and eventually, as she got older, to students at her high school. The victim originally met Winfield via a social media game. Winfield threatened to harm her family if she did not comply with his requests for sexually explicit photos and videos and continued to exploit and extort her until his arrest.
Similarly, Winfield exploited at least one victim in College Station, Texas.
If you believe you were also a victim of Winfield’s crimes, or have information related to this case, please contact the FBI at (614) 849-1733.
Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and J. William Rivers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division, announced the guilty plea offered this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Norah McCann King. U.S. Attorney Parker and Special Agent in Charge Rivers commended the cooperative investigation in this case with FBI divisions and state and local law enforcement agencies in Ohio, Virginia and Texas. Assistant United States Attorney Emily Czerniejewski is representing the United States in this case.
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Updated December 21, 2023
Project Safe Childhood