Moncton man accused of luring up to 2,000 boys online
A 24-year-old Moncton man remains behind bars, accused of luring hundreds of boys in several countries into sharing intimate and illegal images and videos of themselves online.
As investigators comb through the evidence, they’re also trying to identify the many victims, which could top 2000.
The RCMP allege the man, who cannot be identified because of a court-ordered publication ban, has been sexually exploiting boys online from at least January 2012 until the fall of 2014.
Investigators say the man pretended to be a teenaged girl and contacted the boys through live video chats on various social media sites. They say he used a video of a teenaged girl that appeared to be live and convinced the boys to undress and initiate sex acts, which he then recorded and distributed online.
He is now facing several sex-related charges.
RCMP say they launched an investigation in the fall after receiving information uncovered by York Regional Police in Toronto during an investigation entitled Project Hydra.
Investigators spoke with one of the victims.
“Investigators learned the young person had been a victim of child exploitation and had been coerced into providing self-exploitive images,” said Insp. Tim Kelly of the York Regional Police.
The investigation led police to New Brunswick, where RCMP executed a search warrant, arresting a 24-year-old Moncton man in February.
New Brunswick RCMP Sgt. Jean Marc Paré says it was by searching through the computers and hard-drives seized that investigators learned the extent of the crime.
“In terms of video evidence of victims, this was quite large. We're talking somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 victims,” Paré said.
Police say the man could have victims in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Russia and possibly elsewhere.
Investigators believe the boys are between 10 and 16 years old and many may not even be aware they have been victimized.
Police say they have asked authorities in at least five other countries for their helping investigating the extent of the crime.
One of the sites the man allegedly used was Omegle.com, which requires no username and allows people to chat with strangers all over the world.
The man is known to have used the following online usernames and email addresses:
- Skype – Veronika Maylae
- Vichatter – Veronika69
- Facebook – Vero May
Investigators are asking anyone who may have been in contact with the man online to contact police or Crime Stoppers.
“We know it may be difficult for victims and/or their families to come forward but their information is very important to the investigation and could help prevent similar crimes by online predators,” Paré said.
“Police want to be able to speak to as many victims as possible to assist with the investigation.”
Officials with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection say it’s not realistic that parents can monitor their children’s online activities 100 per cent of the time.
They encourage regular discussions about online risks, saying parents need to be prepared to hear their child may have been approached online.
“The more open you are to receiving that information from your child and encouraging them to come to you, you can interfere or get in the middle of a risky situation much sooner,” said the centre’s Signy Arnason in Winnipeg.
Back in New Brunswick, the suspect remains in custody.
There is no date yet for his next court appearance.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jonathan MacInnis