As an unsuspecting 14-year-old, Ashley Reynolds succumbed to the threats of an online user by the screen name CaptainObvious.
If Reynolds failed to comply with his demands, CaptainObvious would reveal nude photos he purported to own of her to Reynolds’ Myspace friends. Reynolds, now 20, initially ignored the threats, but then, CaptainObvious texted her cellphone.
“I gave him the pictures and I got to keep my reputation,” Reynolds said in an FBI video.
On the surface, CaptainObvious appeared to be a typical teenage boy. He had an affinity for skateboarding, a Myspace account stocked with handsome photos and a lighthearted username. But behind the screen name lurked 26-year-old Lucas Michael Chansler who was on a spree–victimizing countless girls between the ages of 13 and 18, according to a July 7 FBI press release.
Cases of sextortion, like this one, generally involve more than one victim, according to FBI Deputy Assistant Director Chris Warrener. Investigations are not confined to a single region either.
The FBI now seeks your help to identify his victims. According to the press release, from 2007 to January 8, 2010, Chansler corresponded with hundreds of teen girls, amassing approximately 80,000 graphic photos and videos.
So far, the FBI has identified 109 victims and estimates that there are at least 250 others. Chansler, now 30, targeted girls nationwide and abroad in 26 states, the United Kingdom and Canada. Officials know of Latina victims in at least four states – Texas, Florida, New York and California.
Last week, the FBI released a list of the 135 usernames Chansler used to contact girls. According to the FBI, Chansler managed eight Myspace accounts, 78 Stickam usernames, 37 email addresses and 12 AIM usernames.
“Chansler was very cyber savvy,” FBI Special Agent Larry Meyers said in an FBI video. “He had been operating for at least three years – probably longer – through the use of proxy servers, which concealed his online whereabouts. He had numerous online persona to conceal his online identity.”
In 2009, Reynolds’ mother found the photos Reynolds had exchanged with Chansler. Her mother called the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) CyberTipline. Together the FBI and the NCMEC traced the threats to Chansler’s Jacksonville, Florida home.
In August 2014, Chansler pleaded guilty to nine counts of producing child pornography. In November 2014, U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard sentenced Chansler to 105 years in federal prison for coercing teen girls into producing pornography, according to a November 2014 FBI press release.
If you have any information to help identify Chansler’s victims fill out the FBI’s confidential survey at fbi.gov/sextortion.
A confidential email can also be sent to FBI.VICTIMASSISTANCE@ic.fbi.gov. Or call 1-800-CALL-FBI FREE (225-5324).
Jose Vasquez is an alumnus of the University of Maryland at College Park. He has worked with The Diamondback, the university’s independent daily, and La Voz Latina, the only Latino-interest publication on campus. His writing has been featured in Kesta Happening DC, the Public Asian and Patch.com. Follow him on Twitter @vasquezreports.