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March 23, 2021

Warrenton man sentenced to 31 years for “sextortion”

This case demonstrates the grave dangers that children face online, where predators can pretend to be anyone and use sophisticated tactics to exploit the most vulnerable among us.
— Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid
ALEXANDRIA — A Warrenton man on Friday received a 31-year prison sentence for a years-long “sextortion” scheme, in which he coerced numerous preteen and teenage victims to create and send him electronic images of themselves engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

“The defendant manipulated, coerced and tormented children across the country by using an arsenal of repulsive tactics, which subjected these vulnerable minors to trauma that will painfully stay with them and their families forever,” said Raj Parekh, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “While no amount of jail time can ever undo the devastating physical and emotional damage the defendant has caused, we hope that today’s sentence will provide some measure of justice for the victims.”

Filippo Parlagreco, 36, pleaded guilty to the production, distribution and possession of child pornography on Nov. 5.

Posing as a teenage girl on social media, Mr. Parlagreco in the summer of 2017 began communicating with a 14-year-old girl and persuaded her to send him sexually-explicit photographs of herself, according to court documents. After she did so, M. Parlagreco posted the explicit photographs to another social media application and demanded that she produce and send him additional explicit images if she wanted them removed.

Despite the victim blocking him on social media and reporting the crimes to law enforcement, Mr. Parlagreco continued to contact her with demands for sexually explicit images over the course of three years, authorities said.

“This case demonstrates the grave dangers that children face online, where predators can pretend to be anyone and use sophisticated tactics to exploit the most vulnerable among us,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The defendant used an array of technology to target and torment innocent children for his own perverse pleasure, but as this prosecution shows, the Department of Justice will continue to marshal its resources to pursue these predators and combat this epidemic.”

When law enforcement authorities identified Mr. Parlagreco, further investigation revealed that he had sexually exploited at least 13 other minor victims nationwide between 2016 and 2020 in a similar manner, including some as young as 11 years old.

Mr. Parlagreco’s tactics ranged from false promises of confidentiality and misrepresentation of his identity to extortion and threats of prosecution. The evidence further showed that he traded child sexual abuse material with other offenders online, and that he possessed hundreds of images and dozens of videos of child sexual abuse in an encrypted portion of his phone.

“The Federal Bureau of Investigation and its local, state, and federal partners work tirelessly on a daily basis to investigate and bring to justice individuals engaged in the exploitation and sexual abuse of children,” said Steven M. D’Antuono, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “With this sentencing, we have removed a dangerous child predator from the community, and sent a clear message that acts of sextortion against minors over the internet are taken seriously and will be investigated and brought to justice.”

The FBI’s Washington Field Office investigated the case with assistance from local law enforcement throughout the country.

The case moved ahead as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims.

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