U.S. Attorney Announces Sextortion Indictment And Seeks To Identify Additional Victims
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Michigan
Provides tips for parents and kids on protecting themselves from growing threat on Snapchat and other social media platforms
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — Today U.S. Attorney Mark Totten announced charges against Brandon Huu Le, 21, of Maitland, Florida for coercion and enticement of a minor, sexual exploitation of a minor, and receipt of child pornography in connection with an alleged sextortion scheme using the popular social media app, Snapchat. Sextortion involves threats against a victim—including threats to publish or distribute private and sensitive information about someone—if the victim does not provide the perpetrator with sexually explicit images or videos, sexual favors, or money.
“These charges represent serious allegations, and we are moving with all diligence to make our case and protect the public,” said U.S. Attorney Mark Totten, for the Western District of Michigan. He continued: “Sextortion is on the rise and represents a real and present danger to every child, teenager, and user of social media. We will use every power at our disposal to protect our most vulnerable community members from this emerging threat.”
“The use of the internet to threaten and manipulate children into producing sexually explicit images, and then threatening to share or publish those images to get the victims to produce more is predatory conduct that is very harmful to minor victims,” said James A. Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan. “I commend the young victims who came forward to report Le’s behavior. Reporting to law enforcement is the brave, first step towards holding these predators accountable for their actions.”
The Government alleges that on August 10 and 11, 2019, Mr. Le used Snapchat to contact a 13-year-old girl living in the Western District of Michigan. The indictment alleges that Mr. Le steered the Snapchat conversation to sexual topics; took a screenshot of the sexual portion of the conversation; and then threatened to publicly post that conversation online with the victim’s name if the victim did not provide him with sexually explicit photos and material.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI are working to identify other individuals, nationwide, who Le may have approached. The U.S. Attorney’s Office believes that Le used the name “Ty” and the following usernames on various social media, messaging, and e-mail accounts:
If you believe that you are a victim in this case, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdmi/victim-and-witness-assistance-program/vw-large-cases/Le or contact Kathy Schuette, Victim Coordinator, at (616) 808-2034 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The FBI provides the following six tips on how people can protect themselves from sextortion schemes:
- Be selective about what you share online. If your social media accounts are open to everyone, a predator may be able to figure out a lot of information about you.
- Be wary of anyone you encounter for the first time online. Block or ignore messages from strangers.
- Be aware that people can pretend to be anything or anyone online. Videos and photos are not proof that people are who they claim to be. Images can be altered or stolen. In some cases, predators have even taken over the social media accounts of their victims.
- Be suspicious if you meet someone on one game or app and this person asks you to start talking on a different platform.
- Be in the know. Any content you create online—whether it is a text message, photo, or video—can be made public. And nothing actually “disappears” online. Once you send something, you don’t have any control over where it goes next.
- Be willing to ask for help. If you are getting messages or requests online that don’t seem right, block the sender, report the behavior to the site administrator, or go to an adult. If you have been victimized online, tell someone.
If you have information about or believe you are a victim of sextortion, contact your local FBI field office, call 1-800-CALL-FBI, or report it online at http://tips.fbi.gov. More information is available at https://www.fbi.gov/how-we-can-help-you/safety-resources/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/sextortion.
The FBI is investigating this case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Townshend is prosecuting it.
The charges in an indictment are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
Updated January 11, 2023
Project Safe Childhood