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Press Release

Virginia Man Charged with Child Exploitation, Stalking, Possession of Child Pornography

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Virginia
Evan Strauss Led a Group that “Swatted” and Extorted Others Online

ROANOKE, Va. –A federal grand jury in Roanoke returned an indictment yesterday charging a Moneta, Va. man with sexual exploitation of a child, stalking, and possession of child pornography in relation to his leadership role of a group of individuals who extort and “swat” individuals online.

The grand jury charged Evan Strauss, 26, a.k.a. “Reaper” and “Kobe Deonsons,” with one count of stalking, one count of coercion and enticement, two counts of sexual exploitation of a child, and one count of possession of child pornography.

According to court documents, on November 1, 2023, Strauss and “Minor A,” a 17-year-old girl from Wyoming, met online and began to engage in regular communication. Over the course of several months, Strauss used various interactive computer services, electronic communications services, and other systems to harass and intimidate Minor A and to place her under surveillance.

In one instance, after the victim refused to provide nude photos or videos of herself, Strauss became controlling and would scream at her. Later, he discovered the victim’s home address and threatened to “swat” her if she did not send him nude pictures or cut herself. Strauss then threatened to show up and kill her, her family, and her cat. As proof of his sincerity, Strauss boasted that he had killed animals before.

Concerned for her family, the victim gave into Strauss’s demands. Among other things, the victim, at Strauss’s direction, carved Strauss’s online username, Reaper, into her upper thigh.

On January 24, 2024, agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation interviewed Strauss while conducting a search of his residence.  Among the evidence seized as part of the search was an iPhone containing multiple videos and images of young girls who are naked and/or cutting themselves. These include pictures of Minor A with “Reaper” carved into her thigh and with other cuts on her legs, as well as a surreptitious recording that Strauss took of Minor A masturbating with a hairbrush.

When Strauss admitted that one of his online usernames was “Reaper,” he also proclaimed to be an active member of a group of approximately 200 individuals known as the “Community,” and that he operated a sub-group within the Community known as “Purgatory.” According to Strauss, the Community participates in a variety of criminal activities online, including placing swatting calls, hacking, blackmailing individuals for money, and extorting women and girls to obtain explicit photos or videos of themselves and to commit acts of self-harm.

United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh and Stanley M. Meador, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Division, made the announcement today.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason M. Scheff is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated June 14, 2024