Feds: Sextortion reports on rise in Metro Detroit

DETROIT – There is a growing number of reports of sextortion in Metro Detroit, according to the FBI and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. 

Sextortion happens when a person uses coercion to get sexual images, videos, money or even sex from a victim. Many times the targets are pre-teens and teens. 

For more about sextortion, visit the FBI's special website here.

Many of the victims are kids with good grades who are social, love sports and have a lot of friends. The problem is these children often make just one mistake, and they pay for it. 

Ashley Reynolds is one such child who fell victim to sextortion. When she was 14 years old she was into sports, was doing well in school and seemed to have a great life. That is until she became a sextortion victim. 

"I don't want to believe what I was doing," she said. 

Reynolds is 20 years old now and is sharing her story with the FBI and the rest of the nation so other other children won't be targeted. 

"I felt like a slave. I had to make sure I replied to every message," she said. 

Reynolds had fallen for a common ploy: She was contacted online by someone who claimed to be a teenage boy. He had embarrassing sexual photos of her. He threatened to sent those photos to her friends if she didn't send him a topless photo of herself. Without considering the consequences, Reynolds sent him the photo. 

"Often times, what we see with the kids here within the region is they will start to communicate with somebody who they believe is a 14-year-old, friend-of-a-friend, and then from there they will develop a relationship," said Michael Glennon, FBI. "At some point they will probably disclose some sort of compromising photo or image. That image then is taken and held against them."

Reynolds faced a similar threat. 

"I gave him the pictures and I got to keep my reputation. He was not going to stop. I never wanted to send and give him what he wanted, but I wanted my freedom," she said. 

She was tormented for months until her parents found out what was happening. 

An FBI investigation led to an arrest of 26-year-old Lucas Chansler. He pleaded guilty to multiple counts of child pornography production and was sent to prison for 105 times. Chansler had use the Internet to victimize nearly 350 teenage girls. 

The majority of his victims have not been identified. 

Contact FBI Detroit: 313-965-2323
Contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: 800-843-5678).

About the Author:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter.