PLAQUEMINES PARISH, LA (WVUE) - Plaquemines Parish deputies believe more than ten boys were tricked into sending nude photos to a young man posing a woman on social media.
Deputies arrested Cole Edwards, 17, on Jan. 13 for extortion and indecent behavior with a juvenile after an alleged blackmail scheme involving sexting.
The Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's Office sex crime unit received a complaint about sexual-related extortion and started its investigation on Jan. 3.
They learned a 16-year-old Plaquemines Parish boy was contacted on Dec. 5 by Edwards on a social media page. Edwards used the screen name "samb8909" and portrayed himself as a girl while communicating with the alleged victim, according to deputies. The two continued their conversation on another social media page.
Edwards, now using the screen name "barbie8909," asked the teenager to send him nude photographs of himself. Deputies say the alleged victim complied with the request. Edwards sent back nude photos of a female.
Edward then told the juvenile to send a sexual video of himself doing whatever Edwards wanted him to do and if he refused, Edwards would send the photos to all of the alleged victim's friends. The juvenile did not send Edwards a video, so he told the teenager he would send the nude pictures to the boy's mother's friends, according to deputies.
The juvenile refused and the sheriff's office was notified.
With the assistance of the Louisiana Attorney General's Office's cybercrime unit, investigators discovered that the IP address associated with the screen names that were used to contact the alleged victim. They were registered to a residence on Asphodel Drive in Marrero. A search warrant was obtained for the residence.
Days prior to that, Edwards contacted the juvenile victim on Jan. 10, and told him that if he refused to respond, Edwards would not stop.
On Jan. 13, investigators served the search warrant in Marrero. They found Edwards, who confessed to portraying himself as a female on social media pages using the screen names "samb8909" and "barbie8909," according to investigators.
He said he created the accounts to get nude pictures and videos of male victims for sexual satisfaction, officers said.
Edwards said he would store the images on his cellphone and watch them later. Edwards admitted that he had been doing this for some time. He also admitted that he knew the juvenile victim, but the victim was not aware it was him, the sheriff's office said.
Edwards also told investigators about another incident that he was involved in that began in mid-December. He said that he met a young male online and extorted him. He said this 17-year-old victim sent a sexual video. Edwards told investigators that this happened on several occasions with the second victim, with the last incident occurring on Jan. 13, officers said.
The PPSO identified the second victim as a Plaquemines Parish resident. He confirmed that an individual, whom he believed was a female and used the screen names "samb8909" and "barbie8909," extorted him.
He told investigators after they traded nude photos, Edwards demanded that he produce a sex video. Edwards told the victim that he would expose him by sending the nude photographs to his family and friends if he refused to send the video. The second victim sent several videos, officers said.
During a forensic examination of Edward's cell phone, investigators located a nude photograph of a third teenage male victim. Investigators are attempting to identify the third victim.
Edwards was booked at the Belle Chasse Lockup on arrest warrants for two counts of extortion and one count of indecent behavior with juveniles. He was released from custody on Jan. 15 after posting a $27,500 cash bond.
Investigators believe there are additional victims and are urging those who communicated with Edwards or shared images with him or an individual using the screen names "samb8909" and "barbie8909" to contact Detective Sergeant Aaron Verrette at 504-564-2525.