CROCKERY TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Authorities say they have connected a case of online extortion against a pre-teen girl in Ottawa County to a man who is already facing federal charges for extorting as many as 45 other victims.
The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office says that in March, an 11-year-old from Crockery Township was coerced into sending images of herself to a man over the Internet.
She told her parents, who called the sheriff’s department. Detectives soon found the extortionist was Matthew Walker of Baton Rouge, the sheriff’s office says.
West Michigan police contacted authorities in Louisiana, who said Walker was already accused in dozens of other similar cases both in the U.S. and internationally.
According to a federal indictment out of Louisiana, Walker, 25, routinely presented himself as a teen girl online, including the messaging app Kik. Often using the names Emily or Zoey, he would trick young girls into sending him compromising photos. He would then reveal that he was not a teen girl and threaten to send the initial image to the victims’ parents if they didn’t send more explicit images.
Many of the victims went along with it for awhile before contacting their parents, who contacted police. A parent communicated with Walker in once instance, and Walker also tried to extort them, ordering them to either take the picture or give the phone to the daughter to take the picture.
Citing The Advocate out of Baton Rouge, the Associated Press says agents described Walker’s scheme as “sextortion.”
According to the AP, Walker faces charges of extortion, production of child pornography, receipt of child pornography and possession of child pornography. He was arrested Aug. 4 and pleaded not guilty to 11 federal charges.
The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office advised parents that with school about to start, now may be a good time for parents to talk about Internet safety with their children.