San Fernando Valley man accused of selling explicit photos of high school girls in sextortion scheme

ANKARA, TURKIYE - NOVEMBER 14: In this photo illustration, logo of 'Instagram' is displayed on a mobile phone screen in front of a computer screen in Ankara, Turkiye on November 14, 2023. (Photo by Didem Mente/Anadolu via Getty Images)
A Sylmar man is accused of using Instagram to advertise explicit photos of high school students. (Didem Mente / Getty Images)

A San Fernando Valley man was indicted Tuesday for allegedly using Instagram to post and sell sexually explicit photos of high school girls without their consent — and threatening to post more images in a sextortion scheme.

A federal grand jury charged Sylmar resident Alejandro Garcia Aranda, 23, with advertising child pornography, distributing child pornography and transmitting threatening communications with intent to extort, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Central District of California.

The June 27 indictment alleges that Aranda advertised explicit photos on an Instagram account with the handle “valleyhoezzz818,” whose stated goal was to shame females in the Valley. He allegedly targeted girls who attended San Fernando Valley schools and used Cash App, Venmo, PayPal and Zelle to sell his sexually explicit wares.

Authorities said Aranda sent customers the images through direct messages on Instagram after receiving payments. When the girls discovered the photos were being advertised and distributed, Aranda allegedly tried to get more photos from them by threatening to post more images online.

If convicted, Aranda faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum of 30 years in federal prison for advertising child porn, five to 20 years for distributing child porn, and up to two years for the extortion count.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.