OAK PARK, Mich. — Police say the suspect is a 15-year-old student at Oak Park High who decided he was going to use his phone to go online and pretend to be a girl to extort money and a lot more from classmates.
“It was by the grace of God that this victim had the courage to go to his mom and ask for help,” says Detroit Police Lt. Dana Russell.
And that brave young victim and his mom going to Detroit police is what began to unravel another teenager's sinister plot.
Detroit police say the 15-year-old suspect used a picture of a teenage girl to catfish classmates and entice them into sending explicit photos and videos of themselves. When more images were demanded and the victim refused to send more, he threatened to release them publicly.
“Putting their images and videos, you know, on blast out there for everybody to see,” says Ofc. Garrett Micallef with DPD Cyber Crimes.
“I always tell my grandchildren and my children it's predators out here no matter where they are. And if somebody asks you a question and you don't know who they are, they answer is always no. And if you don't know the answer, you ask your mother. If you don't ask your mother, you ask me,” says grandparent Ava Browne.
Thankfully the teenage victim was brave enough to tell his mom what was happening, and they went to Detroit police. That's when investigators discovered several more victims, and they believe there could be even more so they're urging parents to talk to their kids.
“In these cases, a lot of times, kids commit suicide, they have nervous breakdowns, and it's so important that they talk to their parents and ask for help,” says Russell.
“Just because they go in the room and they're on the computer, don't mean they're doing all the right things, and sometimes they can be sucked into things,” says Darrell Mitchell who is concerned about his nieces and nephews.
The 15-year-old suspect was arrested and is facing multiple charges - including extortion, tampering with evidence, and soliciting child porn. Those charges are in Wayne County because some of the victims live in Detroit. We're told additional charges could be filed in Oakland County where other victims reside.
“I don't care if you even know the person, do not send any inappropriate video or photos of yourself to anyone,” says Lt. Russell.
“It's easy to make these accounts and, and try to manipulate young minds and that's that's that's the scary thing of this situation. And that's that's what happened.,” says Ofc. Micallef.