MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - A Montgomery County man helped launch an investigation into a sextortion scheme involving multiple women when he confronted the suspect face-to-face.
This week Michael Brendan Cooper, 22, was charged for the second time this month on counts of sextortion. Police accuse him of posing as a gay woman named Rebecca Lattimore online, convincing women to send him intimate photos and videos, revealing his true identity and then threatening victims that he would release the photos and videos if they did not have sex with him.
Angel Balbin said he was furious to find out his girlfriend was being threatened. He said the suspect told her if she didn’t do sexual favors for him, he would release her photos to her family, friends, and work.
Balbin says she arranged to meet up with Cooper in Germantown back in June and he went with her.
”My temper was short that day,” said Balbin.
He said he ended up tackling Cooper, taking his phone and forcing him to unlock it.
”And I scrolled through the pictures deleting as much as I can,” said Balbin. “But the only thing is, it wasn’t just my girl. It was multiple different women, some that I went to school with some that I know are still in high school.”
Balbin took a photo of Cooper on the ground and posted it on Facebook along with Cooper’s fake Instagram profile and a warning that read: “If anyone is following this creep block him. Threatening girls by blackmailing them and after I confronted him. He’s still doing it!!! Please be careful.”
A few days later, it was Cooper who called police to report he’d been robbed, according to charging documents. That’s what set the police investigation into motion after investigators saw several women commented on Balbin‘s post that Cooper had contacted them. One of them was Julia Coreas who showed FOX 5 the Instagram message she got from Cooper’s fake profile.
“I completely ignored it. I was like OK this person is just being super creepy,” said Coreas.
She said she feels for the women who did respond.
“I just can’t imagine what the other girls are going through,” she said.
Police said they initially identified five victims and Cooper was arrested, charged, and released earlier this month.
Police said soon after, Cooper started threatening another woman. Investigators said her boyfriend also went with her to confront Cooper, who was carrying a knife. The boyfriend held him until police arrived. Cooper is being held without bond.
One alleged victim who did not want to be identified said she is struggling with PTSD and anxiety after Cooper threatened her for a year.
“We all are breathing a sigh of relief that we don’t have to constantly worry about a new social media message or constantly look over our shoulders,” she said.
Detectives are concerned that there are additional victims. Anyone who believes that he/she is a victim is asked to call detectives at 240-773-6254.