Sick scam used to trick teens into sex
A US court has heard the sick scam a man used to con two underage girls into performing sex acts in front of a camera.
Charles Thomas Barbarotta, from Cleveland, was sentenced to 20 years in jail after he gained the trust of two teenage girls by telling them he was a movie producer.
The 33-year-old convinced the girls that he was a professional filmmaker and conned them into performing sex acts with him under the guise of producing a movie.
"The promise was he would make them into movie stars albeit pornographic movie stars," lawyer Justin Herdman told News 5 Cleveland.
According to authorities the teens believed the sex acts were being filmed for a commercial pornographic video that Barbarotta was directing in December 2016.
However this was soon discovered to be a scheme cooked up by Barbarotta to trick the girl's into a sexual encounter with him.
He pleaded guilty to two counts of sex trafficking of a minor.
President of the Renee Jones Empowerment Center and Northeast Ohio Human Trafficking Law Clinic, Renee Jones, said that this was just another example of these sick predators are "taking advantage of youth through social media".
She urged parents to monitor their children's online activity and ensure they are being safe on social media.
Though Barbarotta is now behind bars, authorities fear he may have targeted other victims by using similar tactics and urged anyone with information to come forward.
Mr Herdman told Newsweek it was likely the 33-year-old had targeted others before.
"We said at the time of this arrest that we were concerned there could be more victims out there," he said.
"While no additional charges were filed as part of this case, it's hard to believe it was his first time doing this."
Mr Herdman said the case was a cautionary tale for both teens and their parents.
"For teens, it's a reminder that people are not who they seem to be - particularly on the internet," he said.
"For parents, it's a reminder that their children's brains are still developing and they may be more gullible than we think. They key is open communication."