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April 9, 2012

UPDATE: Federal authorities fear 'sextortion' case involves many teens

Brazil man charged with child sexual exploitation

INDIANAPOLIS — Federal authorities say a Clay County man has confessed to coercing scores of teenage boys into recording sexually explicit videos after he threatened to expose them on pornographic websites.

U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett said the arrest of 39-year-old Richard Leon Finkbiner of Brazil may be the largest case of online sexual extortion of minors in the U.S.

Finkbiner was arrested Friday after federal and state investigators executed a search warrant at his home, which also houses an Internet services company.

Hogsett said investigators found thousands of sexually explicit video clips of teenage boys who'd allegedly been forced into performing sex acts that Finkbiner captured on his computer web camera. Some of the videos were allegedly transmitted using the popular video chat site, Skype. Finkiner told investigators that his victims numbered at least 100 or more.

The way Finkbiner enticed the teens into recording the sex acts is the stuff of parental nightmares, Hogsett said.

Finkbiner allegedly had secretly captured sexually explicit images that the teenagers themselves had sent out over what they thought were private Internet video chat sites.

According to the criminal complaint filed against him, he was able to track down those teens using information on social media sites like Facebook, and then contacted them, threatening to make them into “gay porn stars” if they didn't comply with his demands.

“I can't sleep at night thinking about this case,” Hogsett said.  

At a morning press conference today, Hogsett released a photograph of Finkbiner and asked the media to get information out about the case in hopes that more victims would come forward.

Hogsett asked anyone who had contact with Finkbiner to call the FBI's Cybersquard Division in Indianapolis at 1-877-542-8979.

The criminal complaint filed against Finkbiner is graphic in detail. It describes the actions he allegedly took to coerce two 14-year-old boys, one in Michigan and the other in Maryland, to record themselves  engaged in explicit sexual activities using the web cameras on their computers.

The complaint also contains the pleas of one of Finkbinder's alleged victims, begging the Clay County man to stop. Finkbinder's response, according to the complaint: “I wont get caught. I’m a hacker. I covered my tracks.”

Eventually, both boys confessed to family members what was happening, and those family members contacted police.   

Finkbiner was arrested on charges involving the Michigan and Maryland teens, though Hogsett said he anticipates more charges to come as more victims are identified.

Hogsett used the word “sextortion” to describe Finkbiner’s crime. He said the Internet has allowed sextortion cases to flourish as predators capture embarrassing images online, then threaten to expose their victims unless they agree to make more even more sexually explicit photos or videos.

“Unfortunately, the Internet has its dark side,” Hogsett said.

Finkbiner is being housed in the Vigo County jail in Terre Haute. His first court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted on the current charges of sexual exploitation of children.

Maureen Hayden is the CNHI Statehouse Bureau chief. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamedia.com.

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