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A Canadian man accused of blackmailing underage teens via the Internet and compelling them to send him images of themselves engaged in sex acts was sentenced to 30 years in prison Tuesday.
Antonio P. Fontana, 59, of Ontario, Canada, admitted to coercing two Detroit-area victims, 15 and 14, into sending him illegal videos and photos of themselves naked, or engaged in sex acts.
U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade described Fontana’s acts as “sextortion.”
“The phenomenon of ‘sextortion,’ where child predators use the Internet to extort children to pose for pictures and engage in sex acts online, is a growing problem,” McQuade said when Fontana pleaded guilty in January. “Predators entice young people to pose for compromising pictures, and then use shame to silence the victims from seeking help.
“Parents should warn their children that you never know who is on the other end of an Internet conversation, and to never let shame prevent them from seeking help when they are in trouble.”
Fontana was indicted on 12 federal crimes, including production, possession and distribution of child pornography, and extortion using the Internet. He was extradited to the U.S. last year.
Fontana convinced the 15-year-old victim to show her breasts to him during an initial online video conversation, in which Fontana posed as a 16-year-old boy, investigators say.
He secretly recorded the girl and “immediately” threatened to post pictures of her on the Internet if she did not perform further sex acts on webcam, according to the U.S. Attorneys Office.
Investigators say Fontana continued to threaten the teen on an “almost daily basis,” and recorded numerous sex acts.
In late 2013, Fontana convinced the teen to involve a 14-year-old friend in one of the “sextortion” acts. The 15-year-old stopped communication in December that year.
Fontanta continued to contact the girl and her mother, threatening to release the videos he’d recorded.
In February 2014, he followed through with the threat, sending illegal images and videos of the girl to several of her email contacts and mother.
Since his arrest in 2014, Fontana has been jailed pending resolution of the charges.
As part of his plea deal, Fontana admitted to victimizing up to five underage victims in a similar manner from around the world.