National News

Chalmette man arrested for elaborate 'catfishing scheme'

Posted July 14

— The St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's Office has arrested a man they say was running an elaborate "catfishing" scheme to force women into sexual relationships.

Twenty-two-year-old Paul Bradford, Jr., has been charged with non-consensual disclosure of a private image, extortion, and online impersonation, according to the SBPSO.

Bradford is accused of setting up false online personas in order to establish relationships with women that he met online, a scheme that has become known as "catfishing."

Bradford would pressure the women into sending him sexually explicit photographs of themselves and then threaten to release the images online if the women didn't "comply with his requests for sexual favors," according to the SBPSO.

Some of Bradford's online personas were fictional, while in other cases he stole the identity of actual individuals.

"In today's world of social media and technological advances, people need to be less trusting to individuals they meet online and more leery about what they share with them," St. Bernard Parish Sheriff James Pohlmann said. "Parents especially need to be more vigilant about monitoring what their children are doing online and make every effort to keep the lines of communication open about the dangers associated with these types of scams."

Bradford is being held on a $25,000 bond for this case. At the time of his most recent arrest, he was out on a $10,000 bond for a August 2016 arrest for arrest for computer-aided solicitation of underage girls.

Nearly a dozen women have come forward claiming to be victims of Bradford's scam since the investigation began, according to the SBPSO.

Anyone who believes they were victimized by Bradford or knows someone who may have been is asked to report it to the St. Bernard Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Bureau by calling Sgt. Jessica Gernados at (504) 278-7731.

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