Sterling Man Charged In Connection With Online Extortion Scheme: Cops | #datingscams | #lovescams

LOUDOUN COUNTY, VA — A Sterling man faces several charges after he was indicted in connection with an online extortion scheme, police said. Investigators said the man was in possession of child pornography.

Authorities identified the man as Shane Pearson, a 31-year-old man from Sterling. He was indicted by a grand jury earlier this week, according to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.

Pearson is charged with two counts of computer solicitation, two counts of felony production of child pornography, two counts of possession of child pornography, one count of extortion, and five misdemeanor counts of coerce, intimidate, or harass a person by computer.

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Pearson is being held without bond at the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center.

If convicted, Pearson could face more than 30 years in prison.

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The sheriff’s office said they opened an investigation after two victims said they sent photos to someone they met through a dating app. The person then demanded additional photos, sexual favors, or money.

The suspect said they would distribute the photos if their demands were not met.

Through their investigation, detectives identified additional victims, including children. Authorities completed multiple search warrants and found child pornography in Pearson’s possession.

In 2020, the Federal Trade Commission reported $304 million in losses as a result of romance scams. The FTC lists several tips to avoid dating app scams:

  • Never send money or gifts to a partner you haven’t met in person
  • Scammers on dating apps often say they are in the military, working on an oil rig, or are a doctor with an international organization
  • Scammers often say they need money for a plane ticket, a medical procedure, gambling debts, custom fees, or a visa
  • Scammers typically ask for money through wire transfer, reload cards, or gift cards
  • targeted by a scam can report it to the FTC online.

    Resources are available for people who are victims of sexual exploitation and violence. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation hosts an array of resources for victims and their families on their website.

    A hotline for child victims can be reached at 1-800-25-ABUSE. Further resources can be obtained from the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network.

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