UNCW students among victims in alleged social media ‘sextortion’ case

UNCW students among victims in alleged social media ‘sextortion’ case
Kevin A. Kerney

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The man accused of using social media to try and extort racy photographs from women in the central part of North Carolina is now facing charges in the Port City.

Kevin Allen Kerney, 32, of Denton, NC, was booked into the New Hanover County Jail on Friday on three counts of cyberstalking and three counts of extortion. He made his first court appearance in New Hanover County on Monday.

Kerney was already jailed on similar charges in Guilford County following an investigation by law enforcement at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the High Point Police Department.

Authorities said Kerney tried to extort at least three victims in Wilmington, with two of the alleged victims being students at the UNCW.

UNCW Police Chief David Donaldson said," These brave young women ages 19 and 21 came forward to report this to our department. Unfortunately, there are people on the internet with sinister goals. They may mimic good intentions, but that’s not the outcome."

Kerney is accused of reaching out to females through Instagram about a modeling opportunity, identifying himself as a woman named Kayla and asking for personal details and photographs.

Police said Kerney would also request a series of photographs, including topless and nude pictures from the victims.

After obtaining those pictures, Kerney would then threaten to send the photographs to everyone the victim knows unless they gave him their Instagram login and password. Police say Kerney warned victims not to contact police because he wouldn’t be caught.

Donaldson had a message for UNCW students who may feel they too are victims.

“Please reach out to law enforcement,” Donaldson said. "There is a strong case file against this offender. Be very selective of the information you post and when in doubt, end the conversation and call us.”

Kerney was arrested by UNC Greensboro police on Jan. 9 following a three-month investigation.

WGHP reported in January that at least 40 people had come forward to UNCC police claiming they were victims.

Kerney’s next court date in New Hanover County is set for April 25.

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