Woman speaks out about horrifying online 'sextortion' experience

A local woman is speaking out about a horrifying experience she had online when she was a teen.

Ridley Park, Pa. (WTXF) A local woman is speaking out about a horrifying experience she had online when she was a teen.

FOX 29's Shawnette Wilson spoke with the victim of "sextortion."

"We were chatting with kids that we thought were our age."

Sitting in her father's basement in Ridley Park, Delaware County, 22-year-old Samantha Chonski can now openly talk about a gnawing secret she kept for four years.

"We were just fooling around, having fun and laughing  until one of them dared us to flash our chests over the webcam.  We complied with them but merely two seconds and then we just continued throughout our night just talking and having fun," she said. 

Samantha was a 6th grader then and had been on a social media video chat site called Stickam which no longer exists.  She and her friend thought no more of what they had done and never heard from the boy again who was on the other end instant messaging them with only a picture for his profile.  But he could see video of them.

"And that was the end of it for about like six months," she said.  Then one day, six months later, a cryptic message on MySpace.

"The initial message read I have this picture of  you and if you don't go on Stickam and do what I tell you to do then I'm going to send it to all your friends.  At first I kind of objected it. I didn't believe him. I was like you're lying. You’re full of crap," said Samantha.  But the faceless person with only the name "Captain Obvious" attached to the message quickly responded.

"He responded with the picture itself proving to me that he did have a picture of me and my friend."

That picture of  Samantha and her friend flashing their breasts had come back to haunt her.

"He just kept saying that if you don't do this then I'm just going to send it out. Just think of what everyone is going to think of you," she said. What Samantha told me next painted a vivid picture of the torture this then 13-year old endured.

"I had to do what he told me to do which was really intense, sexually explicit things for a 13 year old to do. Things that 13-year olds don't even imagine.  Things that you would see in a pornographic video of adults  just sexually violating myself for about 5 hours straight," said Samantha.

Five,  excruciating,  humiliating hours.

"As I was complying with everything that he wanted me to do I  was thinking oh and now he has this on me now too. This picture is worse than that one before," she said.

Before "Captain Obvious” disappeared off line there was one more disturbing thing Samantha says he did.

"He was saying I can make sure this will never happen to you again, you need to do this and that, like block all of your social media pages. He said he didn’t want anyone to do this again which was really like confusing and manipulative,"  Samantha recalled.   After that night she struggled to get back to her normal life.

"I was fearful and I felt disgusted and embarrassed and really ashamed. So that's part of the reason why I never spoke up about it. I never told anybody about it," said Samantha.

What was her life like before this happened?

"I wanted to be Squidward from SpongeBob so I played the clarinet.  I sang.  I was in acting. I played lacrosse and volleyball," she said.

Music was and still is something she loves.

"I was in a band. I was in a Pink Floyd Led Zeppelin cover band when I was 13.  That was my life as a 13-year old."

So how does a little girl with so much zest, d talent and involved in so many activities fall victim to an online predator?

"Honestly, I wasn't getting the attention from boys at school because I just wasn't popular or cute enough.  I actually was getting made fun of by some of the boys that I had crushes on in middle school. So I turned to the internet and when someone was giving me and my friend attention we jumped at the opportunity for someone to compliment us and make us feel better about ourselves," Samantha said.

For years she says she struggled with depression and thoughts of suicide after what happened but somehow  managed to block it all out.

"I kind of just let it slip to the back of my mind for about four years," she said.  Then in 2010 Samantha came home from school to find FBI agents at her mother's house.  They'd caught the guy who did those things to her years ago.

"I'm like holy crap I forgot. I slipped it to the back of my mind and repressed it because I didn't want to think about it anymore."  She remembers her mother crying hysterically.

"I think she was more confused  more than anything just kind of wondering why I wouldn't tell her."

The other bombshell is the person Samantha and her friend believed they were online with that night wasn’t who they thought.

"He was just like this skater kid, with hair in his face and like a mirror pic with skinny jeans," she recalled.

Not so.  She soon found out from FBI agents that it wasn't the 15-year old boy she just described but instead,  26-year-old Lucas Michael Chansler in Jacksonville, Florida.

"I realized wow this is serious. This was messed up. This wasn't right," she said.

It turns out, Samantha is one of several hundred victims FBI agents had identified at that point.  In fact FOX 29 reported on Chansler's arrest in 2014 when FBI agents announced they were looking for more victims and making parent's aware of what they call "sextortion".

"He had over 80,000 images of child pornography on his computer but he had extorted approximately 350 victims in about 26 states in the United States and Canada," said now retired Special Agent J.J. Klaver during an interview several years ago.  He went on to describe sextortion.  “The extortion can involve threats to family demands for money but typically they want more picture or images. But we see threats to post the pictures to the victims friends list," he said.

Investigators tracked down Chansler after another girl's parents found messages on her computer and contacted them.  Samantha met some of the other victims when they went to Florida to testify during a sentencing hearing.

"He got up and he said he was sorry for what he did which was very emotional for all of us but he didn't have a reason why he just said he was really sorry," Samantha recalled. “To think that one man could do this to so many girls it was pretty scary."

Samantha has since decided to become an advocate for victims of online child predators.

"Don't do anything you wouldn't want your parents to see. Don't send that picture. Don't fall for the tricks of people that you don't know on the internet," she said.

Even though Chansler is serving a life sentence she knows the nude pictures of her may still be out there,

"The internet is becoming a bigger place and the more younger kids that know about technology, they're getting better with it each day, the more scarier and easier it is for a pedophile to reach out to them."

Investigators say Chansler was operating under several screen names in addition to “Captain Obvious”.

 

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