St. Paul man pleads guilty to online sextortion scheme targeting over 500 girls – Twin Cities


A St. Paul man pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to a five-year online sextortion scheme that killed at least 500 people in the United States and elsewhere.

Yue Vang, 31, appeared before U.S. District Judge Eric C. Tostrud in St. Paul on two counts of producing child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography and interstate communications with intent to extort. The judge ordered Vang to remain in custody pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

The parties disagree on how to calculate the indicative sentence, but prosecutors are asking for 72 years in prison. The two most serious counts carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Vang was indicted on May 24 by way of a criminal information, a process by which a defendant agrees to waive a grand jury indictment and plead guilty instead. In exchange, federal prosecutors agreed not to charge him with the additional counts to which he pleaded as well as transporting, receiving and distributing child pornography.

According to court documents, Vang used web and social media applications, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Kik and Skype, to perpetuate his sextortion scheme from at least early 2015 until September 2020. Vang created fake female profiles to prey on girls he met online. in order to entice and coerce them into creating sexually explicit images and videos to send to him.

Vang knew the girls were under 16 because their ages were displayed in the profiles or they told him, the charging document says.

He collected more than 1,000 child pornography images and videos from his electronic devices that showed minors between the ages of about 12 and 17 engaging in sexually explicit behavior, according to the plea agreement.

Vang threatened to release sexually explicit images of them to family members, friends and classmates unless they create and send him additional images and videos of themselves naked or engaging in sex. sexually explicit conduct, the document says.

Prosecutors say federal authorities have identified more than 500 girls that Vang “sextorted” during his scheme and that another 300 girls are unidentified.

The Minnesota U.S. Attorney’s Office encourages anyone who may have been a victim of Vang’s crimes or has information about the case to contact justice.gov/usao-mn/child-sextortion-victim-information.

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