Destin Whitmore, 22, of Canton, was denied bond after being indicted by a federal grand jury Feb. 19 on 14 counts related to online activity with minors, said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.
“This defendant preyed on teenage girls and attempted to extort them to create and send him pornographic images,” Yates said Tuesday in a news release. “He threatened to post compromising images of the girls on the Internet and to send them to their friends and family.”
Authorities believe Whitmore used multiple online usernames to contact underage girls through popular social media websites, said Bob Page, of the U.S. Department of Justice.
“In April 2012, a teen girl in Arizona reported that she was contacted using a popular social media website by an individual using a profile name ‘Ralph Jenkins,’” Page said Tuesday in a news release. “The individual using the Jenkins profile, later identified as the defendant, Destin Whitmore, sent the teen compromising images of herself and threatened to send those images to others, including her family members, if she did not immediately create additional images for him.”
The charges against Whitmore were made with information gathered by a joint investigation by the Cobb County Police Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation, Page said.
An additional investigation showed Whitmore’s personal profiles, along with the profile of username “Lenny Carlington,” was also used by Whitmore to transmit pornographic images of multiple teenaged girls to extort them for more images, Page said.
“If they did not comply with his wishes, he threatened to distribute the pornographic images to others and post them on various websites for public consumption,” Page said. “Many of the girls Whitmore extorted were known to him through personal relationships or through long term communications using web cameras with the girls online.”
Records show Whitmore was detained by Cobb County police Feb. 21 on five counts of extortion, one count of enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity, three counts of distribution of child pornography and five counts of possession of child pornography.
He was transferred to the custody of the U.S. Marshal Feb. 24 and was not allowed to make bail at a bond hearing Tuesday, Page said.
The FBI and Cobb County police are involved in the ongoing investigation, Page said. Jill E. Steinberg, assistant U.S. attorney, is prosecuting the case, Page said.
Yates said “this is a stark reminder of the need for parents to talk with their children about Internet safety.”
Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Atlanta Field Office, Ricky Maxwell, echoed Yates concern.
“This case exemplifies the need to remain vigilant against child predators and others who would exploit the vulnerabilities of minor children over the Internet,” Maxwell said Tuesday in a news release. “The FBI remains uniquely positioned to investigate and bring forward for prosecution those individuals who would exploit and harm our nation’s children and we ask that anyone with information regarding such activity to call their nearest FBI field office.”