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High school girls in Duval, St. Johns counties targeted in sex extortion scheme; police say suspect hacked their phones

One victim told investigators he forced her to provide names of other females, “if she ever wanted this to end.”

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A man arrested on 14 charges relating to the rape, molestation and extortion of young girls hacked their private photos and social media accounts, police say, threatening exposure in exchange for sex or explicit photos.

An arrest warrant affidavit obtained by First Coast News paints a portrait of a years-long scheme in which police say Jose Manuel Pinto Florez, 61, threatened and coerced young girls via text messages. Several of the victims worked together, and at least a few were in high school at the time of the abuse.

In interviews with U.S. Secret Service investigators, one girl said she was initially contacted on May 5 when she received a lollipop emoji from an unknown number. Investigators noted the emoji commonly denotes oral sex. The girl said the sender indicated he’d hacked her iCloud and sent her “extremely detailed and personal information” as proof, including who she was texting at that moment.

The girl told investigators she began regularly communicating with the man, who she believed had access to her phone, and ultimately sent him “at least two or three nude photos of herself” before her last contact with him on June 13.

She told investigators several of her coworkers were also receiving threatening text messages.

In speaking with coworkers, investigators interviewed a victim who was in high school when she began receiving threatening and explicit text massages. She said the abuse began in November 2020, and she sent nude photos of herself “out of fear of the threats.” She ultimately met with a man investigators have since identified as Florez at area motels on four occasions. She described being blindfolded and forced to perform sexual acts, which he indicated was going to record on his cell phone. She said at one point when the man allowed her to take off her blindfold he was “wearing a hard, possibly plastic facemask that was black in color with red on it.”

The girl told investigators he would give her a Starbucks gift card afterwards, or money he said was to get her nails done.

“The victim advised she did not want to meet, have sexual intercourse with or accept any gifts or money from the suspect,” the report says. “She advised she met the suspect out of fear. She stated she was so worried about the text messages she was barely sleeping two hours a night. She stated he even texted her while she was in classes at school.”

The victim said the abuse lasted until June 2021, but that he contacted her again in February 2022 “and began to threaten her.”

“He stated if she ever wanted this to end, she would need to find a replacement for him, meaning other females,” the report says. The victim told police that she subsequently sent screenshots from her work scheduling app that included names, phone numbers and email addresses for her coworkers.

Another victim said that she worked with Florez’s romantic partner in September 2019 when she began receiving harassing and sexual text messages, which she believed were coming from him. She believed Florez’s romantic partner provided him with her contact info, obtained from a list of employee phone numbers posted in the store. She said she transferred to another location, reported the incident to her school resources officer in St. Johns Country and changed her phone number, at which point the harassing texts stopped.

The warrant says two officers began communicating with Florez on Aug. 5, impersonating 16-year-old girls. The warrant says he “solicited lewd photos and solicited sext acts,” offering to pay one $500 to meet him at an area motel.

He was arrested last Wednesday on two counts of sexual battery, two counts of unlawful sexual activity, two count of travelling to meet a minter, three counts of solicitation of a minor and five counts of extortion. He did not appear in person at first appearance court last week due to what courtroom staff describe as disruptive behavior. His bond was set at nearly $4 million.

His first court date is Sept. 1.

 

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