Teen Extorted in Snapchat Catfishing Scheme Involving Explicit Photos, Family Says

"The message is to never send explicit photos on any social media platform. It doesn’t ‘vanish’ even if that’s the promise," a local sheriff warned, after teens were told to hand over hundreds of dollars to prevent such photos from being shared with their family, friends and school

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It started with a contact through Snapchat. A 14-year-old Dutchess County boy described to the I-Team what happened after a "girl" friended him.

"We started talking and she sent me photos and asked me to send some back," he said.

Unfortunately, those explicit photos fell right into the trap of an extortionist posing as the girl. "She" demanded $800 — or threatened to send the photos on social media to the boy’s family, his friends and his school.

The victim told his mom, who received the revealing photo on her social media account.

"He was scared. He didn’t know where else those photos might end up," the mother, who didn't wish to be identigied, told the I-Team.

Then, the mom says, came more threats. The boy said someone called him through Snaphat, demanding the money.

The family went to the Dutchess County Sheriff’s office. It turns out there may be as many as five additional victims.

"The scenarios are the same. They ask for money or threaten to share compromising photos,” said Detective Jeffrey Cohen.

He said he doesn’t know if photos were actually widely shared or if money was paid by the other victims. The 14-year-old was told his image had been shared on a social media platform.

"The message is to never send explicit photos on any social media platform. It doesn’t ‘vanish’ even if that’s the promise,” Sheriff Kirk Imperati said.

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The Dutchess County District Attorney said it expedited subpoenas to both Snapchat and Instagram.

The I-Team did not get a response from Instagram, but a Snapchat spokesperson provided a lengthy statement, saying in part: "Sexual exploitation and extortion of any kind is unacceptable on our platform and violates our policies. We routinely work with safety experts and law enforcement to help combat it. We have also rolled out a new app safety tools called ‘Family Center,’ with the goal of giving parents more insight into who their teens are communicating with on Snapchat."

The mother of the 14–year-old still doesn’t understand how explicit photos of her son were able to be distributed without permission. She is just glad her son trusted her enough to reveal the blackmail.

"It is terrifying to think that someone is taking advantage. And what might happen if a teen doesn’t have a parent they can talk to?" the mother asked.

The I-Team has learned of a similar scheme in East Fishkill where there was an arrest. If you have any information about similar cases, email:

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