Man posed as teenager online to get boys to send him indecent photos, then blackmailed them

A “predatory” man posed as a teenage girl on social media to get dozens of young boys to send him lewd pictures before blackmailing them.

Jay Lang, 24, whose victims potentially numbered in the hundreds, also sexually abused one of the boys, which led to the boy making several suicide attempts, Basildon Crown Court heard.

Lang, from Canvey Island, Essex, created Snapchat and Instagram accounts under a pseudonym, claiming to be a 16-year-old girl. He then targeted boys aged between 11 and 16, forcing them to send him explicit images of themselves before blackmailing them into sending him more or paying him money.

He was sentenced to 21 years in prison for his crimes on Friday.

24-year-old Jay Lang, whose victims number in the hundreds, during his police interview

(Essex Police/PA Wire)

Marc Brown, prosecuting, said the 24-year-old opened romantic and later sexual conversations, which led to him inciting his victims to send indecent videos and photos of themselves.

The prosecutor said that “unbeknownst to each of the victims” the accused was using a screen recording app on his phone and would save the images and later use them to blackmail the boys.

Lang later revealed himself as a man and demanded further photos or demanded cash, threatening to publish the images the boys had already sent if they did not comply.

He sexually abused one of the boys after they felt they had no choice but to agree to his request to meet, the prosecutor said.

The boy said in a victim impact statement read to the court that the abuse “made me have suicidal thoughts on a daily basis” and that he had tried to kill himself several times.

Detective Sergeant Ben Rushmere, Detective Constable Steven Tilley and Detective Constable Hayley Langmead, all of Essex Police, outside Basildon Joint Court in Essex

(Lucy North/PA Wire)

Lang also blackmailed another boy into filming himself having sex with a friend, the court heard.

He said the offense spanned about three years, from 2019 to 2021. “The offense came to light in November 2021 when one of the victims reported what happened to him to the police,” the prosecutor said.

A police analysis of Lang's phone found 540 videos and 140,000 images, while 220 potential victims were identified. “As a result of all these investigations, approximately 26 victims provided evidence,” the prosecutor said.

Lang admitted at an earlier hearing to 46 offences, including inducing or inducing a child to engage in sexual activity, blackmail and inducing or inciting the sexual exploitation of children.

Jailing Lang for 21 years with an extended license following six years, Judge Samantha Cohen told him: “You are a predatory, manipulative and dangerous young man. You have wreaked havoc on the lives of 26 young men and their families.”

He said he was “turned on by the power and control” the offending gave him and that it caused him “anxiety, depression, insomnia and suicide attempts”.

The judge said it was “compulsive behavior over three years” and it happened despite being in a “steady relationship” at the time and having a child.

Lang was placed on an indefinite sex harm prevention order and ordered to sign the sex offenders' register for life.

The defendant said “thank you” to the judge as he was led from the secure dock to the cells.

Nick Bonehill, mitigating, said Lang had pleaded guilty to the offences, avoiding the need for a trial.

He added: “Through me he apologizes to every victim.”

Essex Police said it was the biggest child exploitation investigation the force had ever undertaken and the judge praised their work as a “tour de force”.