Social media posts showing cruelty against animals and being used to extort the public for money are now under investigation by authorities in Loudoun County, Virginia.
Loudoun County Animal Services, working with the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, announced Friday that it is looking into “the posting of videos and photographs portraying graphic and disturbing acts of animal torture on Instagram.”
Officials said that the person who is posting the videos is seen committing heinous acts of animal cruelty. Whoever is posting the videos is also demanding that viewers send them money in order to prevent more acts of torture.
Animal cruelty videos such as these are considered state and federal felonies. Penalties include a fine and up to seven years of incarceration, in addition to state penalties relating to financial crimes.
Authorities said IP addresses associated with the videos show that the incidents of cruelty took place around Ashburn, Virginia; however, officials concluded that the torturous acts originated outside of the country.
Loudoun County officials said it has no authority to prosecute animal cruelty cases that occur outside the U.S., but the county will notify the nearest authorities once they find out where the videos were produced.