The group called “Bored Group” was convicted at the beginning of December for manipulating minor girls on the internet to self-harm and perform sexual acts.
Christian Maire (photo) of Binghamton, N.Y., 40 years of age at the time of the sentencing, and the married father of two, was the ringleader of the organization and received the highest prison term, 40 years. He was busted by a former victim who helped the FBI.
Other culprits received similar prison terms:
- Arthur Simpatico, 47 years old, of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Sentenced to 38 years;
- Jonathan Negroni Rodriguez, 37 years old, of West Hollywood, California. Sentenced to 35 years;
- Michal Figura, 36 years old, of Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. Sentenced to 31¼ years;
- Odell Ortega, 37 years old, of Miami. Sentenced to 37½ years;
- Brett Jonathan Sinta, 36 years old, of Hickory, North Carolina. Sentenced to 30½ years;
- Caleb Young, 38 years-old, of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Sentenced to 30 years;
- Daniel Walton, 34 years old, of Saginaw, Texas. Sentenced to 30½ years;
- William T. Phillips, 39, of Highland, New York. Sentenced to 33 years.
The organization would lure young girls aged 8-17 through social media and online chatrooms posing as a group of teenage boys. Sexual acts and even a few instances of self-harming were requested of the girls after elaborate psychological scams to win trust.
In other words, using fake profiles, pictures, and videos of young boys, the gang would act convincingly on teenage dating websites such as MyLOL.com, Gifyo, Periscope, and YouNow. Each member had its role and worked systematically. The group would comment on old and non-sexual posts of girls to stand out of the crowd, and then they’d send chatrooms invitations.
The psychological bond of the group with the victims was developed over long periods of time around topics like school, family, sports, and sex. Furthermore, the final manipulative strategies to get the victims to undress were also well-thought. For example, the dares or challenges would gradually progress to sexual requests alongside strategic compliments. Another technique involves competitions between victims to see who performs the most outrageous actions. But probably the most interesting psychological tactic resides in the group’s frequent use of the word “bored” as to appear authentic and reassuring. Apart from being in the name of the group, chatrooms or certain posts would also be called “justsobored,” “borednstuff,” and “boredascanbe.” The word was used to give the illusion of a bored group of innocent teenage boys.
On the other hand, the organization also had a defense strategy. First of all, as stated before, the group never commented on sexual posts. Second of all, the group had an entire network of “Hero” or “White Knight” investigation teams that would alert the group of the existence of people that might warn the victim of the scheme. Such networks were used for other purposes and were both internal and external of the group’s nucleus. More so, archives were kept with the personal information of each victim, as well as other details involving past or current scams. Chatrooms were also categorized in “camping rooms,” where victims were expected to return and “regular rooms, ” where victims would appear at least once per week.
The downfall of the group started in 2017 when a group member linked the “Bored Group” to the news of a bust of an unrelated sexual predator which confirmed the FBI’s suspicions.
Some of the victims spoke up about the mental and social scars. A woman from New Orleans, tricked when she was 16, declared last week at the sentencing:
“I am a 20-year-old girl standing here today, facing the monsters that destroyed my childhood due to child exploitation. (…) I enjoyed having ‘friends’ to talk to every day. They were always there no matter what time of day. “
The woman described how she was tricked into the scheme. Several videos were made of her which were used for blackmail. The stress and psychological abuse lead to self-harm, hospitalization, and even suicide attempts:
“I know they knew I was hurting, because they would watch me cry and some would even ask me to self-harm while they watched. Thinking back to those days causes me to cry myself to sleep, wondering when the monsters will stop haunting me.”
Tragically, the group sobbed as well upon hearing the decades-worth of punishment they have to face. The leader of the group begged for mercy, and although the U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy sparred him life in prison, the final sentence totaled not a day less than four decades of prison.