NEWARK, New Jersey — Federal prosecutors say a northern New Jersey man posed as a teenage boy online to ask underage girls to produce sexually explicit images of themselves and then distributed the images to others.
Erik Vanderbeck of Bayonne is charged with sexual exploitation of a child and distribution of child pornography. Vanderbeck faces up to 50 years in prison if convicted on both charges, and was scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court on Tuesday afternoon.
Prosecutors say the 47-year-old Vanderbeck met various girls through online chat applications and in chat rooms. Over the course of their correspondence, he allegedly would send them nude images and ask them to send him nude photos of themselves.
Once Vanderbeck received nude images, he allegedly would threaten to kidnap the victim or post her nude images online unless she sent more. When one of the victims threatened to report Vanderbeck to the authorities, he replied, "The cops will never catch me."
Vanderbeck also allegedly used nude images that he received from one victim to pretend to be a teenage girl in online chats with other individuals online.
Authorities executed a search warrant at Vanderbeck's home on Tuesday and recovered computer equipment that appeared to contain child porn.
Law enforcement officers have interviewed several of Vanderbeck's victims, who said they produced images of child pornography out of fear and in response to his threats.