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Feds: bald man posing as 17-year-old secretly taped teens

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A Massachusetts man in his 40s stands accused of posing as a 17-year old boy so he could lure teenage girls into video chatrooms and secretly videotape them as they engaged in sexual acts.

Lawrence Joseph Silipigni Jr., of Saugus, Massachusetts, was indicted on nine felony counts related to his alleged production of child pornography. According to documents filed in federal court in Los Angeles, the nearly-bald, heavyset man harvested pictures from a unknown boy's MySpace account and set up fictitious accounts such as this one on social networking site Stickam. He then befriended girls and encouraged them to perform sexual acts in private video chat rooms.

"Although Victim believed she was performing privately for her 17-year-old online boyfriend, a video recording of Victim masturbating for Silipigni has surfaced on the internet," an FBI agent wrote in an affidavit that was filed last month, about an unidentified 14-year-old girl from California. In all, Silipigni collected about 100 videos from underage girls he tricked under the guise.

The incident isn't the first to cast Stickam as a place unsuitable for teens. In July 2007, The New York Times reported that the site allowed more than 600,000 registered users, age 14 and older, to participate in unfiltered live video chats using web cameras. The report also said the site's principal owner, Wataru Takahashi, operated a "vast network" of porn sites which shared office space, employees, and computer systems with Stickam.

"They don’t get it that there are predators on the Internet," The Times quoted a former Stickam employee as saying.

Stickam representatives didn't respond to requests from The Register to comment for this article. The company's vice president of marketing commenting for The Times article denied it had deleted thousands of emailed abuse complaints without reading or responding to them.

"We take security issues very seriously and have a dedicated team to monitor and eliminate improper material," he said.

Silipigni allegedly met his then 13-year-old victim in December 2007. Posing as a 17-year-old named Jamie who lived with his mother and two sisters, he spent the next three months trying to talk the girl into removing her clothes and performing sex acts in front of her webcam so he could watch. She finally complied in February when she created a private channel on Stickam and invited the supposed boy to join her.

Silipigni then used a program called Camtasia to record the session. He later posted the video to a section of Stickam called "Anonib-Teens No Rules."

A few months after the video was made, the girl, then 14 years old, was contacted online by another girl who said she too had been tricked by Silipigni's scam. A third teenage girl soon contacted the victim saying she had also fallen for a similar scheme by Silipigni, who in that case used the handle "BostonJamin"

When the girl confronted Silipigni, he confessed he wasn't really a 17-year-old boy, but in fact a man in his 40s.

"I'm the same person, just older," he wrote. "I'm not as hot and I'm chubby. I'm lonely and hate being old."

According to court documents, Silipigni cruised Stickam, Facebook, and MySpace in search of girls aged 14 to 18 years old. He told FBI agents he collected more than 100 videos of webcam girls he met on Stickam. ®

Update

A day after this article was published, Stickam officials responded to our request for comment by saying that since January 2007 the company has maintained a 12-person team to monitor live streams and manually approve every static video posted on the site. They also said they contacted authorities as soon as they learned of the incident and have fully cooperated with the investigation.

The officials also said Silipigni's video of the victim was never posted on Stickam.com, contrary to what an FBI agent wrote in a criminal complaint.

They went on to say that the individual quoted in The New York Times article was never an employee of the company, although he did have an employee badge that gave him access to Stickam's Los Angeles offices.

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