RANDOLPH COUNTY, NC -- Detectives with the Randolph County Sheriff's Office are tracking an online predator, wanted for targeting young females in the Triad.
Sheriff Robert Graves says at least five victims in their late teens and early 20's have come forward with the same type of reports from their social media accounts.
According to Graves, the suspect hacks into people's Facebook profiles and messages their friends to request photos for a potential "modeling job" if they send photographs.
"An individual is hacking Facebook accounts, targeting young ladies," said Graves. "He's hacking them and pretending that he is one of their friends."
Graves says the first trick is building trust with the victims.
"By building that report with him, they feel comfortable with him and think he's legitimate," said Graves.
The predator asks for head shots first, according to Graves.
Then, he requests photos of the girls in their underwear and completely nude.
"Somebody is making them feel important and can entice them into things," said Graves. "They pray upon our vulnerabilities."
Graves says the next step is blackmail.
The predator threatens to send the pictures out to the victim's entire Facebook list if they don't cooperate.
"That's how they get them," said Graves. "They extort them from that point and sometimes they're afraid to come forward."
From there, the extortion threats continue.
Graves read a portion of a transcript from one of the Facebook messages:
"I've got these pictures of you. I want you to hear me out and cooperate with me. If you block me or deactivate, I'm spreading them all over. You can call the police but I promise it's useless."
Graves says they've received five reports from young women in their teens and early 20's including three from Randolph County.
"I guess they catch them on the wrong time. It could be somebody in a weak moment," said Graves. "They may put their guard down and let it happen."
Right now, detectives are working to track down leads on possible suspects.
Graves says this is a particularly tough case because their search area is the entire internet.
The first reported was taken last year. The latest report came in two weeks ago.
Detectives need the public's help to solve this case.
Contact the Randolph County Sheriffs Office if you or someone you know has been contacted by this person.
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