An Indiana man was formally charged Tuesday in Terre Haute after prosecutors say he tricked 10 teenagers into performing sexual acts in front of a webcam.
Richard Finkbiner, 39, told some of those he communicated with online that he was hoping to create the largest collection of amateur pornography in the world, prosecutors said.
The series of acts was a "systematic scheme to victimize hundreds of children," said U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett.
The victims included nine boys and one girl, all between the ages of 12 and 16, from the states of Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, New York, Michigan, and Colorado, according to prosecutors.
Finkbiner tricked the teens into performing sex acts in an online video chat by feeding recorded pornography he said were live images from his webcam, assistant U.S. Attorney Zach Myers said.
"Most if not all of the victims really never saw Mr. Finkbiner," he said. "They saw an image they believed to be Mr. Finkbiner."
After the sex acts were performed, prosecutors said, Finkbiner threatened to upload the images to pornographic websites unless they responded to one of the email addresses he used as an alias. When the teens responded, Finkbiner threatened to expose the videos to the teens' family and friends unless they produced more videos for his use, prosecutors said.
Finkbiner has also been charged with extortion, accused of threatening to post images of girls from Minnesota and Alaska online, according to prosecutors.
Finkbiner was arrested April 6 at his home in Brazil, Ind. on preliminary charges of sexual exploitation of a child related to cases of boys in Maryland and Michigan, prosecutors said. Those cases are not included in this most recent indictment, according to Tim Horty, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Finkbiner's federal defender, William Marsh could not be reached for comment.
Prosecutors call this case an example of sextortion, in which predators catch victims in embarrassing situations online and threaten to expose them unless they create sexually explicit photos or video.
Prosecutors also hope to speak with other victims. They have released some of the aliases they say Finkbiner used, which include: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com.