Public service announcement warns teens about ‘sextortion’
A man who pretended to be a modeling agent is behind bars in a North Carolina jail, but not before he got more than 40 “young women” to send him revealing or nude photos which he used to extort them, police said in a WGHP report.
University of North Carolina at Greensboro Police said Kevin Kerney’s scam targeted women in “North Carolina, Virginia, and possibly South Carolina,” according to WXII.
The three-month long investigation into the 32-year-old Denton man began after an UNCG student informed campus police, per WFMY. Five UNCG students were extorted in the scam, the TV station reported, and police say there could be more victims.
Since Kerney was arrested, more charges have been filed against him after a separate investigation found he scammed six more victims in High Point, from February 2017 through October 2018, the Winston-Salem Journal reported.
According to High Point Police, the scam involved Kerney contacting “a female victim on Instagram,” when he would tell them about a “modeling opportunity” where they were referred to a woman named “Kayla,” WGHP reported. Kayla would get the women to send pictures that included “topless and or nude photographs,” according to the TV station.
Once Kerney had those compromising photos, he would let the women know “the modeling opportunity was a scam, that ‘Kayla’ is actually a male who is going to send the photographs to everyone the victim knows unless she gives him her Instagram information, including the password,” read a police statement in the Winston-Salem Journal.
Kerney would also tell his victims “there is no use in calling the police because he would not be caught,” the newspaper reported.
This is similar to how UNCG Police described the scam, who applauded the “bravery of these five girls that came forward,” according to WFMY.
A statement from UNCG leaders echoed those sentiments, saying “We are grateful to the victims who have come forward. It is because of their courage that we have been able to successfully apprehend and charge a dangerous individual with a a series of significant criminal acts,” per WXII.
Kerney was taken to the Guilford County Jail on Monday. He has been charged with 11 counts each of cyberstalking and extortion, according to jail records. His bail was set at $35,000 on two of the charges, and he remains incarcerated.
UNCG leaders reminded students to “be vigilant about your security on social media,” and encouraged other victims of the scam, or who know about Kerney to call the police, WGHP reported.