Auburn Man Sentenced in Internet Extortion Case

By Lindsey Connell - bio | e-mail

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WTVM) -  Prosecutors say it is one of the most expansive cases of online enticement and coercion they've seen.

From Auburn and Birmingham to Atlanta and even Pennsylvania and Missouri, over 50 women fell victim to 24-year-old Jonathan Vance.

From January 2006 to June of 2008, the Auburn native and Auburn University graduate, used the Internet to extort private and explicit information from women between the ages of 14 and 24.

"He'd always start by trying to gain some sort of trust from his victims. Sometimes, he'd pose as a long lost friend or secret admirer and he would say I'm not going to tell you who I am until you answer a series of questions," said Nathan Stump, Assistant US Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama.

Once he had the answers to some embarrassing personal questions, Vance would then force them to fork over the passwords to their Facebook, MySpace and email accounts, threatening to release what they told him to their friends and family.

The victims, desperate to regain access to their accounts, would then be blackmailed into taking off their clothes and engaging sexually explicit conduct- capturing it all on digital cameras and web cams.

"Unfortunately for them, it was like quicksand. Every time they complied with one of his requests, whatever they had done became something that could be used against them and the threats continued, the blackmail continued. He really preyed on some on some of the most vulnerable people in our society," Stump said.

Vance is currently being held in the Shelby County Jail in Columbiana, Alabama.

After his federal prison term, he will spend the rest of his life on supervised probation.

He will also have to register as a sex offender and pay more than $10,000 to his victims.

Authorities say it was victims who told their parents and contacted authorities early on that led to Vance's capture so they encourage an open dialogue with parents and teens.