A Winona, Minn., man has been charged in an online sextortion scheme that victimized more than 60 minor girls across the country and abroad, U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger announced Thursday.
A federal indictment with over a dozen charges alleges that Valentin Silva Quintana, 30, used social media apps, including Snapchat and Instagram, to threaten, sexually manipulate, and exploit more than 60 young girls primarily between 9 and 12 years old in Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, New Zealand and elsewhere.
Quintana, who knew that most of the girls were between 9 and 12 years of age, used fake identities and lied about his age in communications with the girls, posing as a minor girl himself. He used images and videos of youthful appearing girls to make his communications with other victims more believable.
Quintana carried out the scheme between April 2022 and June 2023 during which he used a wide range of tactics to coerce his victims, sometimes by convincing young girls that he was their friend or romantic partner, or by offering them money. Most frequently, charges say he convinced young girls to send him a sexual photo or video or covertly recorded them engaging in sexually explicit conduct and then threatened to send the first image to their friends and family unless the girls produced ever more graphic sexual images and videos for him.
Quintana continued his sextortion tactics even as his victims wept and begged him to stop, Luger’s office said.
The indictment charges Quintana with 13 counts of production of child pornography, one count of distribution of child pornography, and one count of possession of child pornography. Quintana made his initial appearance Thursday in U.S. District Court before Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Cowan Wright. Quintana was ordered to remain in custody pending further court proceedings.
“Online predators are using social media apps to befriend, coerce, and ultimately extort children and teens,” said Luger. “Thousands of minor victims have been the target of this horrific exploitation. It’s imperative that we as a community engage with our kids about sextortion schemes so we can prevent them in the first place.”
Minnesota law enforcement officials warned parents last year about a “significant surge” in sextortion schemes in the state that also included targeting young boys.
The FBI reported this week that from October 2021 to March 2023, the FBI and Homeland Security Investigations received over 13,000 reports of online financial sextortion of minors. The sextortion involved at least 12,600 victims — primarily boys — and led to at least 20 suicides, the FBI said.
In the six-month period from October 2022 to March 2023, the FBI observed at least a 20% increase in reporting of financially-motivated sextortion incidents involving minor victims compared to the same time period the previous year.
To date, more than 60 minor girls have been identified in Quintana’s scheme, although law enforcement believes there may be additional victims. Anyone who believes they may have information about this matter is encouraged to contact Homeland Security Investigations through the toll-free tip line at 1-866-347-2423.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Winona County Sheriff’s Office.
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