David Jones was sentenced to 30 months in prison for his participation in a scheme by which he and others fraudulently convinced users of a dating website into believing that they had sent sexually explicit images to underage children and faced criminal prosecution if they did not pay to avoid involvement by law enforcement. Jones previously pled guilty on May 14, 2019.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman stated: “David Jones scared his victims into sending him money by fraudulently convincing victims they were in peril of criminal prosecution for child exploitation. In the end, this cruel and temporarily profitable scheme by Jones earned him a prison term and surrender of his ill-gotten gains.”
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in related court proceedings:
Beginning in August 2017, Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”) began identifying various individuals who reported that they had been extorted after using a dating website (the “Website”). In general, each victim reported communicating on the Website with an individual the victim believed was an adult. Then, after the victim received and shared sexually-explicit photos with the person the victim believed was an adult, the victim was contacted by a person who claimed that the victim had communicated with an underage minor and needed to pay the minor’s family to prevent law enforcement involvement. The victims made payments via money transfers through Western Union and Walmart and/or through the purchase of Green Dot MoneyPak cards.
In total, at least 28 victims of the criminal scheme were identified. Together, those victims paid over $40,000 to Jones and his co-conspirators. The victims were located in numerous states including Florida, Montana, Tennessee, Arizona, and New York. In connection with the scheme, Jones and his co-conspirators made phone calls from South Carolina to Mahopac, New York.