His massive ‘sextortion’ scheme snared 178 boys. Now, he’s going to prison for decades.
Anton Martynenko of Egan, Minnesota, admitted he exploited at least 178 high school boys in multiple states
Operating on the internet in the guise of a young woman and using the alias Courtney Jansgen, a Minnesota man lured gullible teenage boys into producing and sending him footage and nude pictures which he parlayed into porn for his own gratification.
In 2012 Anton Martynenko, 32, from Egan, Minnesota, reached out to a 15-year-old midwestern boy posing as a modeling agency manager calling herself Courtney Jansgen on social media with an enticing offer. Send me nude photos, the attractive woman said, and I’ll get you a $1,000 modeling gig. The teen did just that.
The material was subsequently employed in a sextortion scheme and that was when the boy learnt, albeit too late, that Courtney Jansgen was a phantom. His would-be employer, was in fact a thirty something year old male sexual predator, Anton Martynenko from Eagan, Minnesota.
Anton Martynenko pled guilty to sextorting 178 high school boys. He was sentenced to serve 38 years
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the teen testified in court, that as the plot unfolded, Martynenko offered the teenager $300 in a subsequent message, to perform oral sex. When he refused, the predator resorted to blackmail and the nude images “spread like wildfire” on social media.
According to the court documents, this particular victim’s experience was just part of a massive cat fishing and extortion scheme the defendant hatched and executed, in what prosecutors describes as the largest child pornography case ever prosecuted in Minnesota. According to Assistant U.S. Attorney, Carol Kayser, the average number of victims is typically two to six, in similar cases, as against the 178 Martynenko admitted to in court.
Beginning in 2011 up to 2015, Anton Martynenko admits, he posed as young women on social media and duped at least 178 boys, most of them teenage athletes from the Midwest.
He admitted in his plea agreement, that he posed as a young female on various “decoy” social media accounts and solicited nude images and videos from high school boys. He kept folders of nude photos and videos of young women he posed as, and would swap those with his male victims.
When his victims refused his requests for more, or in some cases, turned down sexual advances, he would punish them by sharing their nude images online.
Prosecutors said Martynenko started preying on teenage boys in 2011 and continued until he was charged in November 2015. In one instance, prosecutors said, Martynenko claimed to be a woman named Marie Anna who had recently moved from Illinois to Minnesota and was looking to make new friends in the area. He told one victim he was handsome and persuaded him to exchange naked pictures, prosecutors said. When Martynenko demanded more, the victim stopped responding. About a year later, the victim found out that Martynenko had spread the images on social media, prosecutors said.
Martynenko admitted he distributed sexually explicit pictures of his victims on at least 50 occasions, but prosecutors maintain he did so more than 1,000 times, a number he admitted in his plea agreement.
The defendant, using a decoy social media profile, persuaded at least three boys on separate occasions in 2015, to come to his home and let him perform oral sex on them. In one instance, he promised the youth that the girl he was posing as would have sex with him in return. In another instance, he threatened to leak the nude photos online if his victim didn’t comply. Two of the youths later killed themselves.
Last month investigators seized electronic devices from Martynenko’s home, including a thumb drive with folders of nude images and videos sorted by name and age and sometimes naming their high school. Authorities fear the total number of victims could tally more than 400 people across Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois when investigations are done.
Martynenko who worked at a mortgage lending firm in Eagan, also trawled gyms frequented by local high school athletes, regularly.
After pleading guilty in January to federal child pornography charges, the 32-year-old Martynenko on Tuesday was sentenced to 38 years in prison, after the judge cut two years from his sentence for cooperating with investigators in an unrelated homicide and child pornography case. A tearful and contrite Martynenko, in court said his crimes were a “getaway” from depression: “I literally couldn’t have handled myself any worse than I did,” he said. “I’ll do anything the rest of my life to make it up.”
His attorney, Marsh Halberg, had asked the judge for the statutory minimum of 15 years and contended that the nearly four decades he received was a de facto life sentence.
For U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger the: “case highlighted how deeply disturbing the criminal obsession of a man like Martynenko can be. How not only does he steal the innocence of teenage boys but through extortion, threats and physical acts he inflicted unspeakable psychological damage to his victims.”
Acknowledging closure, “We all can now be given freedom from this,” the victim said in court. Describing how he was tormented by social media alerts showing Martynenko had tagged him in photos, he called the defendant a “terrible human being who spent years of his life making hundreds of teen boys miserable.”
“It’s an honor to be able to be here to speak for them,” referring to the other victims.
“I’m now going to enjoy my time without any fear of another attack. It’s good to know that he’s going to be unable to do that to us anymore.”
Prosecutor Kayser said “sextortion” is a fast-growing crime, something she hopes puts parents on alert. Noting that young boys are also susceptible to sexploitation: “People don’t think boys can be victimized”.
“It’s interesting when you talked to the kids: They really believed they were talking to a woman,” Kayser said.