TOLEDO, Ohio – A couple is accused of extorting money from at least seven people around the country through a dating service phone scam by convincing them that they had sent racy photos and messages to the cell phone of the couple's 11-year-old child.
The couple would then demand money in exchange for not going to police, according to a federal affidavit.
The pair received just over $10,000 from people they connected with through the dating service, the affidavit said.
Kevin Zunk, 43, and Tonya Blaze, 40, both of Toledo, face extortion charges. They made initial appearances Wednesday in federal court.
An attorney for Zunk declined to comment, and a message seeking comment was left with Blaze's public defender on Thursday.
Investigators said the pair gave the victims a phone number and coaxed them into sending sexually explicit messages and photos.
It's not clear whether the couple actually has an 11-year-old child. They told the victims the messages were received by either their 11-year-old son or daughter.
Some of the victims received calls by someone posing as an FBI agent or a sheriff's deputy who told the victims they planned to press charges, the affidavit said.
In one case, a man in Florida contacted the FBI in October after he sent $2,485 to Zunk, court records said.
According to the affidavit:
— The man said he contacted Zunk through the dating site and Zunk suggested they swap nude photographs.
— The man sent two nude photos and Zunk called him soon after to say they were sent to his daughter. Zunk then said his wife was upset and that he needed money to change his phone number and for court costs.
— Zunk sent repeated messages to the Florida man, demanding more money. "I will call your work and let your boss know what you're charged with," one voice mail said.
Other victims included people in Indiana, Illinois and Missouri, the affidavit said.