St. Paul man sentenced to 43 years for online sextortion scheme targeting more than 1,100 girls

One of Yue Vang’s victims said she battled drug addiction and wished to commit suicide as a result of what he did to her. Another claimed that she was a bright future honor student who started cutting herself to “escape the pain” he caused.

Before Vang, of St. Paul, was sentenced to 43 years in prison and a lifetime of supervised probation for operating what authorities claim to be the biggest known internet sexual extortion scam ever in the United States, victim impact statements were read in federal court on Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Eric Tostrud said that more than 800 females who Vang harmed in all 50 states and 42 other countries had been identified by the prosecution after delivering the punishment in the St. Paul federal courtroom.

This is the biggest known sextortion case in American history, according to what we know now about the government’s awareness of more than 1,100 juveniles, Tostrud added.

The charges against Vang, 31, include two counts of producing child pornography, one count of having child porn in his possession, and one count of making interstate communications with the purpose to extort.

From at least early 2015 until September 2020, according to the prosecution, Vang utilized fictitious online personas to convince or force females to produce sexually explicit photographs and films to deliver to him. In order to continue his sextortion plan, he utilized websites and social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Kik, and Skype.

He was prosecuted using a felony information, which is a procedure in which the accused consents to forego a grand jury indictment in exchange for a guilty plea. In return, federal prosecutors agreed to drop their charges against him on the additional counts to which he pled guilty as well as the charges of transporting, receiving, and disseminating child pornography.

Vang amassed more than 1,000 child pornographic photographs and films on his electronic devices, depicting young people between the ages of 12 and 17 engaging in lewd behavior. If they did not generate and give him more photos and films of themselves in a naked state or engaged in sexual activity, he would threaten to release the photos and videos to their family members, friends, and classmates.

According to his plea deal, Vang was aware that the girls were under 16 since their ages were indicated in their profiles or they explicitly informed him.

Tostrud said that Vang exploited the girls’ “biggest weaknesses” and that his “behavior was premeditated and ineffably cruel.”

Tostrud said that Mr. Vang’s actions “created limitless and eternal damage.” “We have heard victim impact testimonies today that depict that damage. Those declarations provide compelling proof of the damage done to Mr. Vang’s many victims.

Vang delivered a short speech to the court in which he expressed his regret to his victims before being given his punishment.

He remarked, “I realize that expressing my sincere regret will never be adequate to heal the anguish and sorrow that I have caused. “Words and deeds fall short of expressing how sincerely sorry I am.”

According to the FBI’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, Vang came to the attention of law enforcement when a victim in Ohio called her local police department, who, after conducting an investigation, determined that the suspect could reside in Minnesota.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received the information from the police, who then sent a tip to the Minnesota Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Inquiry by the FBI started in 2020.

Sextortion is one of the few crimes that are as traumatizing and destructive to a young child as it is, according to Michael Paul, special agent in charge of the Minneapolis FBI field office. “Vang is a predator who preyed on innocent, na├»ve young girls, taking advantage of their vulnerability to produce images and films. He stole their youth from them and permanently changed both their lives and their families’ lives.

With more than 16,000 sextortion-related complaints submitted to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center in the first seven months of 2017, the bureau claims to be seeing a substantial rise in these incidents. According to the FBI, victims under the age of 20 made the fewest number of complaints despite making up almost half of the sextortion victims.

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