Hickory man accused of helping trick teens into child porn

By: Brittney Johnson

Updated:

HICKORY, N.C. - A Hickory man is accused of being part of an alarming and elaborate scheme to trick teens into child porn.

Brett Sinta appeared before a judge at the federal courthouse in Charlotte Monday. The criminal complaint against him lays out an elaborate strategy he's accused of using to bait and violate young girls.

The FBI identified Sinta by his username, and labeled him "North Carolina Target # 1."

Court documents said he worked with a group of adult men targeting young girls on social media sites and recruiting them to a chat room known as "Website A" in the complaint.

Investigators said the men in the group had dedicated roles. The "hunters," for example, did the luring, investigators said. Once they'd gotten the teens in the group, investigators said the "talkers" would coerce them to engage in sexual activity. The so-called "loopers" would pretend to be teenagers and play videos of other teens to trick the victims, according to investigators. Then, investigators said, members of the group would record the acts and share the videos on a separate site that was protected with a password. The complaint said the men also kept a spreadsheet of information about the young girls with links to the social media pages where they found them.

Susan Wind educates families about dangers online through her company Parents kNOwmore.

"I'm not surprised. I believe the internet and social media apps have pretty much provided a gateway for sex offenders to act on some of their fantasies," Wind said.

She encourages parents to monitor their children’s online activities and advises kids to verify who they're talking to and to avoid sharing personal information.

[LINK: Resources for parents on protecting kids online]

"They look for chat rooms and forums where the girls seem to be depressed, almost because they make a better target -- a better victim," Wind said.

FBI officials identified 50 underage victims and said the group targeted girls ages 15 to 17 years old.

[LINK: Internet safety materials from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children]

Sinta is accused of being a so-called "hunter." When FBI agents knocked on his door Monday, he admitted to his involvement in the group, according to court documents.

FBI agents didn't specifically list the websites Sinta is accused of using in order to avoid compromising the investigation.

Sinta faces several federal charges, including producing child porn. Six men have been arrested in connection with the same exploitation ring in eastern Michigan.

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