A Virginia man has been sentenced to federal prison for using popular social media apps to target and exploit young children.
Joseph Isaiah Woodson, Jr., 30, of Ashburn, Virginia, enticed and coerced several young girls across the country to send sexually explicit photos and videos of themselves by pretending to be friends with them online, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
He was convicted in September on multiple accounts of child pornography, as well as one count each of conspiracy and sending threats to extort.
On Friday, he was sentenced to serve 50 years in federal prison and a lifetime of supervised release.
“His sentence of 50 years in prison should serve as a warning to others involved in sex-tortion,” said George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami, in a news release.
Evidence shows that Woodson would befriend victims on Snapchat, get their passwords and demand pornographic photos and videos. He also used the texting app Kik to maintain control of the children’s accounts.
Multiple law enforcement agencies in Florida and Virginia, as well as Homeland Security, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command and FBI Miami’s Child Exploitation Task Force were involved in the case.
“Child predators beware, anyone who uses social media and the internet to target and extort children … risks spending the rest of their lives in prison,” U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan said in a news release.
“We implore the community to help us protect our loved ones by monitoring our children’s social media accounts and reporting all suspected offenses to law enforcement.”