A man posed as a young woman moving to Brighton to trick schoolboys in the area into sending him compromising photographs.
Michael Cole, 30, unemployed, then blackmailed the boys – aged 13 to 15 years old – to send more pictures. He even lured one of his online victims to come to his home, Lewes Crown Court was told.
Cole was jailed for four years on Friday (19 June), having admitted 13 sex offences at an earlier hearing.
He pleaded guilty to 11 offences of inciting sexual activity with a total of nine boys from the Newhaven and Seaford area. And he admitted two counts of having an indecent image of a child.
One of the offences of incitement related to physical activity with a boy who went to Cole’s home.
Cole, of Chestnut Way, Newhaven, was issued with a sexual harm prevention order for life. The aim of the order is to restrict his access to young children and computers. He will also be a registered sex offender for life.
Detective Constable Steve Shimmons, of Sussex Police, said: “Between May and October last year a number of teenage boys in the area were contacted online by someone calling themselves Jenny Lane or jennylane1994, who claimed to be a 19 to 20-year-old woman from Essex who was moving to Brighton to study.
“This person, who turned out to be Cole, then requested or shared inappropriate images with them.
“All were duped into sending photographs of themselves in the belief they were talking to an attractive young woman who made promises to them and who, once they had sent images, threatened to share the images if the victims did not send more.
“The promises included being sent naked photos and there was also talk of meeting up.
“When we investigated we found that Cole had used an array of social media, including Facebook and Skype, to contact teenagers and sent out more than 50 friend requests.
“These young boys came forward to say they had been contacted, three of them reporting that they were threatened with having images posted online if they did not send further inappropriate images.
“One of the boys was duped by ‘Jenny Lane’ into meeting ‘her friend’ Cole and sexual activity took place between them at Coles’ home.
“It is clear that Cole’s aim was to collect erotic photographs of local boys for his own gratification.
“He had to trick them into sending the photographs because all but one of them were heterosexual.
“When he found out one of the boys was gay, he immediately introduced his real self in order to meet the boy.
“The case is a further example of the reason that everyone, especially vulnerable young people, should be really careful about engaging on the web with people they do not know.
“I would urge parents and children to look closely at their ‘friends’ lists on social media and delete anyone that they do not know.
“Cole poses a real danger to young people and we are glad that he has now been brought to justice.
“The sentence reflects the seriousness of his offences.”