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Phoenix FBI warns about growing 'sextortion' cases

A Phoenix teen in the Valley received a text saying "I have naked pictures of you,” and told her he was going to send them to all her friends.
Credit: Ashley Reynolds

PHOENIX — The FBI is warning about "sextortion" cases, predators targeting young girls, coercing them into sending inappropriate pictures and videos that are then traded on the internet.  

A Phoenix teen fell victim to this crime.  

“I didn't get in any trouble or anything like that,” said Ashley Reynolds.  

At the end of Ashley’s freshman year of high school, she says she started getting threatening text messages from a stranger.  

They read, "I have naked pictures of you,” and the person sending them told her he was going to send them to all her friends.  

The text messages didn’t stop there.  

“I need you to take pictures in your bra if u don't want them to see you,” another text message said.  

“I knew that there was no picture of me, not to my knowledge at least,” said Reynolds.  

But at just 14 years old, Ashley started falling victim to a sexual predator.  

"He was almost manipulating my mind to believe that he did have some pictures of me, so I didn't know, maybe, I had my laptop up, and maybe I was changing or something like that," she said.  

Ashley became the victim of what the FBI in Phoenix calls “sextortion.”   

“…where an adult coerces someone 18 or younger to send them sexually explicit photos or video,” said Jill McCabe, public affairs specialist for the FBI in Phoenix. “Often times that’s through deception, through threats, by offering money or gifts and they’re able to obtain these photos and then they’ll ask for more.”  

Website to provide tips to the FBI.

McCabe says they’re seeing more cases like this being reported.   

“This kind of crime can happen on any platform where people meet,” she said. 

In Ashley’s case, she found herself in a downward spiral.  

“That one night, turned into around 60 pictures per night,” she said. “I was so scared. I didn't know where it was going to go.”  

Until finally, the person behind the threats, 31-year-old Lucas Chansler of Florida was arrested. Investigators say Ashley is one of 350 girls victimized by Chansler across the globe. He’s now serving 105 years for an extortion scheme to produce child pornography.  

Ashley is now working to help the FBI find other victims and to help save others from becoming a victim.  

"I feel like I have a meaning to help other girls that they don't have to go through this like I did," said Reynolds.  

If you believe someone you know has been a victim of sextortion, be sure to contact the FBI in Phoenix immediately. 

Anyone looking for resources regarding sextortion can contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI or at their website here. People can also contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678 or their website here.

NCMEC's CyberTipline is the nation's centralized reporting system for the online exploitation of children. The public and electronic service providers can make reports of suspected online enticement of children for sexual acts, extra-familial child sexual molestation, child pornography, child sex tourism, child sex trafficking, unsolicited obscene materials sent to a child, misleading domain names, and misleading words or digital images on the internet.