|U.S. Attorney’s Office|
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and George Venizelos, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), announced criminal charges against Mark Anthony Warren for engaging in a scheme to lure minor children over the Internet into engaging in sexually explicit conduct, which Warren secretly recorded and threatened to disseminate unless the minor children produced and sent him additional sexually explicit videos. Warren was charged with production and receipt of child pornography and extortion. Based on information provided by the FBI, Warren was arrested yesterday in Australia by the New South Wales Police Force and charged with related offenses.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, “As alleged, Mark Anthony Warren used social media and phony profiles to ensnare his minor victims and later force them into engaging in sexually explicit acts that he recorded. Warren allegedly believed he could hide behind the anonymity of the Internet and use special computer software to escape detection, but he was sorely mistaken. Protecting minors from individuals who prey on and attempt to exploit them is a high priority of this office, and thanks to the outstanding efforts of FBI agents and our prosecutors, Warren will be made to answer for his alleged crimes.”
FBI Assistant Director in Charge Venizelos said, “Warren was arrested today for allegedly developing unsuspecting male minors into subjects of his self-directed production of child pornography. Posing as a teenager himself, he coerced them into engaging in sexually explicit conduct and later tormented them with the threat of releasing proof of this conduct to their families and friends. Once removed, the virtue of innocence can never be restored. The exploitation of minors is a cause of great concern, and the FBI will continue to go after networks of online pedophiles and other sexual predators who use the Internet to sexually exploit children.”
According to the allegations contained in the criminal complaint unsealed today:
From at least November 2013 to December 2013, Mark Anthony Warren used multiple false identities and posed as a teenage girl in order to trick, coerce, and extort minor male victims into producing child pornography at his direction. In particular, Warren created bogus accounts on various social media websites using false identities and posing as various teenage girls and a teenage boy. Using these bogus accounts, Warren contacted male minors, including a 14 year-old in New York, New York, and, posing as a teenage girl, engaged them in sexually explicit discussions via online chats. During these chats, Warren showed the minor males a pornographic video of a young woman whom Warren claimed to be and simultaneously secretly video recorded the minor males engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
After making these secret pornographic recordings of his minor victims, Warren contacted them again online and threatened to publish the videos to the victims’ families and friends unless the victims created additional pornographic videos of themselves and uploaded them to a particular website accessible by Warren. Warren provided the victims with specific, detailed instructions about the sexually explicit videos they were to make at his direction. He further threatened that if the minor male victims went to law enforcement, the victims would be arrested and charged with child pornography crimes. Warren also told his victims that he used particular computer software to obscure his identity and that he was beyond the reach of law enforcement.
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Warren, 49, of New South Wales, Australia, is charged with one count of production of child pornography and one count of attempted production of child pornography, each of which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. He is also charged with one count of receipt and distribution of child pornography, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; as well as one count of extortion, which carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI. He also thanked the New South Wales, Australia Police Force and the Australian Federal Police. Mr. Bharara added that the investigation is continuing.
The FBI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through their switchboard at (212) 384-1000. It is staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800- 843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Eun Young Choi and James Pastore are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the complaint are merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.