The FBI has busted an online porn operation that lured teenage girls from across the country, including one Oakland County girl who authorities say was tricked into posing nude on a webcam for men pretending to be teenage boys.
Among those who sexually exploited her, the FBI says, was a married father of two children from New York who had numerous explicit conversations with the girl when she was 14.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Detroit federal court Monday, the now 16-year-old Oakland County girl interviewed with the FBI in June and explained how the online scam worked. As the FBI would learn, court records show, the man behind the operation was the married father from Binghamton, N.Y., who was charged with numerous pornography crimes after his home was raided Monday.
The accused ringleader is Christian Maire, whose house was searched by federal agents while his wife and two children were home.
According to court records, Maire "voluntarily spoke" with the agents and confessed to visiting websites that had child pornography. He recalled visiting chat rooms that the FBI has determined were used to sexually exploit at least 50 teens and preteens nationwide, including the Oakland County girl.
According a criminal complaint in U.S. District Court, the FBI interviewed the Oakland County girl on June 29. She stated that she had "consistently" been in a chat room with four to five individuals whom she believed to be teenage boys. These people, she told the agents, enticed her to show them her naked body and perform sexually explicit acts while on a webcam.
After that interview, the FBI followed an electronic trail of evidence that led them to other suspects, including a group of six who have all been indicted in Detroit on charges of running a child exploitation enterprise.
According to court records, here is how the enterprise worked:
Each group member had a role. The "talkers" were in charge of talking to the girls to get them to engage in l sexual activity. "Hunters" were in charge of luring the girls to the chat room and alerting others to let them know that the minors were there. The "loopers" would pretend to be the teenagers in the chat room, using videos of other teens and playing them for the targets, acting like it was them in real time.
One of the cooperating suspects identified the leader of the group as New York Target #2. which was the ringleader's user name. He was the primary "hunter" or "linker" for the group who recruited the teen girls using social media websites as "hunting ground," pretending to be a teenage boy and sending them links to chatrooms.
New York Target #2 turned out to be Maire, who, records show, admitted to the FBI that that was his user name. He is charged with five child pornography crimes.
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© 2017, Detroit Free Press