A Texas man has been arrested by the FBI for allegedly stealing explicit photos and videos from more than a thousand victims, including minors, across the United States. Andrew Venegas, 23, is facing charges of sexual exploitation of children after coercing and extorting women and girls into sending him explicit content under the threat of public exposure. Using a fake account named “Starkylol,” Venegas posed as a woman to manipulate and exploit victims nationwide. Federal authorities were able to gather evidence by convincing Venegas to send explicit images directly to them.
Federal officials have charged 23-year-old Andrew Venegas with sexual exploitation of children after he allegedly stole nude photos and videos from over a thousand victims, including minors, online. Venegas is accused of extorting women and girls by threatening to share their explicit images publicly. The FBI believes that Venegas used a fake account called “Starkylol,” using a woman’s photo as his profile picture, to manipulate and extort victims across the United States. During the investigation, federal authorities were able to obtain explicit images directly from Venegas.
According to the complaint filed against Venegas, he advertised the stolen content online, including explicit images of minors under the age of 18. Venegas hacked into some victims’ accounts without their authorization, gaining access to their private images. He then coerced the victims into sending more explicit content by threatening to share their images on Telegram, an encrypted messaging app, and selling them online. Venegas specifically targeted images depicting girls under the age of 18.
The FBI discovered that numerous victims reported their images or videos being posted on a website without their consent. Some victims suspected that their images were taken from their Snapchat accounts without permission. Venegas would contact the victims and blackmail them, threatening to share their images with friends and family unless they provided additional explicit content. This form of exploitation, known as “sextortion,” involves threatening to distribute private material unless the victim complies with the perpetrator’s demands.
Law enforcement identified several victims who appeared to be minors in the explicit images shared by Venegas. The FBI also found messages from Venegas to a minor victim, where he demanded more explicit images under the threat of sharing existing content. The investigation revealed that over 1,000 females had their images posted on a website, often accompanied by their real names.
The “Starkylol” Telegram account used by Venegas contained messages boasting about how easily he obtained nude images from victims. Investigators reached out to the account to coordinate a sale, and law enforcement was able to obtain some images from Venegas. They also traced a victim’s payment to Venegas’ cryptocurrency account, which he used to remove her images from his website. During the execution of a search warrant at Venegas’ residence, undercover messages sent to the “Starkylol” account were displayed on his phone.