LAKELAND, Fla. – On March 16, 2021, Polk Sheriff’s detectives arrested 16-year-old Laith Lineberger of Lakeland, an eighth-grader at the McKeel Academy of Technology, for:
- 2 counts Extortion or threats (F2)
- 2 counts Use of a two-way communication device to commit a felony (F3)
- Use of a computer to seduce a child (F2)
Lineberger sent a friend request on Snapchat to a female student several years younger than him, and began asking her to send him photos. Lineberger was very persistent, and reminded the victim that they “go to the same school,” which the victim interpreted as there would be consequences if she didn’t comply. The victim sent Lineberger an image of her buttocks in underwear. She then asked him to delete it, to which he replied, “money.”
When the victim asked Lineberger what would happen if she didn’t pay him, he said he would post the photo on Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram, for “everyone to see.” Lineberger demanded $100.00, and the victim met him at school and gave him the money.
Approximately a week later, Lineberger told the victim he still had the photo, and again she asked him to delete it. He then demanded more sexually explicit photos and a video. She ignored him, but he continued to make demands. The victim then told her mother, who contacted the school, and PCSO began an investigation.
“This is the second case in a matter of weeks where a suspect was charged with extortion against juvenile victims via social media apps. Every day we see examples of why it’s so important to be involved in your child’s online activities, and put parental controls on your child’s phone. This young man is now facing some very serious felonies. We hope he’s learned his lesson,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady
The following is an excerpt from Lineberger’s affidavit, explaining the charges:
Based on the findings of this investigation, it was determined the suspect had by written communication, maliciously threatened to expose images of the victim that could hinder her reputation or disgrace her. Also, in committing these felonious acts, he used a two communication device.
Furthermore, by requesting her to send nude images of “t**s a** and ***** [expletive] vid” it was determined he had used an electronic device in an attempt to seduce, solicit, lure or entice a child to commit an illegal act.
Lineberger was arrested and taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center. His electronic devices were seized, and the investigation is ongoing. More charges are pending the outcome of the investigation.