A Chalmette man out on a $10,000 bond awaiting trial for charges related to an August 2016 arrest for computer-aided solicitation of a juvenile teen-age girl is being investigated for running an elaborate catfishing scheme to force women into sexual relationships, Sheriff James Pohlmann said.
Paul Bradford Jr., 22, of 40 Packenham Ave. in Chalmette, was booked July 7 with non consensual disclosure of a private image and July 10 with extortion and online impersonation. Sheriff Pohlmann said both recent instances involve adult female victims.
Sheriff Pohlmann said Bradford is accused of allegedly creating various fake social media accounts and using them to catfish, or scam people into romantic or sexual relationships.
In some instances, Bradford posed as fake persons, and in others he assumed the identity of actual individuals known to the victims and posed as them throughout multiple conversations, unbenounced to the victim and the person whose identity he stole.
Once Bradford befriended these individuals, they said he would coerce them into sending him sexually explicit photographs and videos of themselves. Once the images were obtained by Bradford, the victims said he would begin to threaten to share them with people they know or post them online if they didn’t comply with his requests for sexual favors.
Sheriff Pohlmann said the phenomenon of catfishing is becoming more and more prevalent.
“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,” Sheriff 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.”
Sheriff Pohlmann said the investigation into Bradford’s online activity is ongoing and additional charges are possible as nearly a dozen more adult females have come forward claiming to have been victimized by him. Bradford is being held in St. Bernard Parish Prison on a $25,000 bond.
Anyone who believes they were victimized by Bradford or knows someone who may have been should report it to the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Bureau by calling Sgt. Jessica Gernados at (504) 278-7731.