Marine Corps. service member targeted women online, asking for sexually explicit images and videos.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that Johao Miguel Chavarri, 25, also known as “Michael Frito,” of Oceanside and Torrance faces charges of cyberstalking multiple young women in California in a “sextortion” campaign.
Chavarri was an active-duty service member of the U.S. Marine Corps. in Oceanside, where he was arrested by authorities. According to the criminal complaint, “from 2019 through 2021, Chavarri, using the online persona Michael Frito, created and used numerous online accounts to repeatedly stalk, harass, and threaten women who would not give in to his demands that, among other things, they send him nude, sexually explicit, or otherwise compromising photos and videos of themselves.” In some of the cases, the harassment and threats lasted for more than a year.
Authorities indicate that Chavarri demanded his victims send sexual photos to him, videos of themselves or photos or videos of their feet and in many cases he would threaten them if they didn’t comply with his requests. He would publish their sexual photos and videos online, on pornography sites or distribute them to to their boyfriends, friends, family members or employers. He was able to locate and identify these individuals and places of employment by name.
Chavarri also created fake social media accounts on which he would post the victims’ names and send harassing messages to their friends and family members in his sextortion campaign. One message sent to numerous victims on Instagram stated he would spend his “whole life ruining” theirs. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warns that it has “seen a huge increase in the number of cases involving children and teens being threatened and coerced by adults into sending explicit images online.” It states, “Sextortion can start on any site, app, or game where people meet and communicate. In some cases, the first contact from the criminal will be a threat. The person may claim they already have a revealing picture or video of a child that they will share if the victim does not send more pictures. More often, however, this crime starts when young people believe they are communicating with someone their own age who is interested in a relationship or with someone who is offering something of value. The adult will use threats, gifts, money, flattery, lies, or other methods to get a young person to produce an image.”
It continues, “After the criminal has one or more videos or pictures, they threaten to share publish that content, or they threaten violence, to get the victim to produce more images. The shame, fear, and confusion children feel when they are caught in this cycle often prevents them from asking for help or reporting the abuse. Caregivers and young people should understand how the crime occurs and openly discuss online safety.”
The ages of Chavarri’s victims weren’t provided in the release. If he is found guilty, a judge will determine his sentencing.