'Catfish' rapist who blackmailed victims jailed for 15 years

|News, Sexual offences

A rapist who used a fake social media profile to encourage three young women to send him explicit photos of themselves before demanding money or sex to stop him from sending the photos to their families, has been jailed for 15 years.

The method of pretending to be someone else on social media is commonly called 'catfishing'.

Rhys Miller-Offiong, 24, was jailed at Woolwich Crown Court on Thursday, 6 December for one count of blackmail, four counts of distributing indecent images of a child, three counts of disclosing a private sexual photograph with intent to cause distress, one count of rape and a count of committing an offence with intent to commit a sexual offence.

Andrew Hudson, from the CPS, said: "Miller-Offiong used a false online profile and a variety of social media accounts and telephone numbers to lure vulnerable young women.

"Once he gained their trust, he would demand sexually explicit images of them, threatening them so that they felt scared and pressurised into complying. Two of his victims sent him images of themselves. He then demanded money and sexual acts from them, threatening to send the images to family and friends if they did not do as he wanted. Through fear, he forced one of his victims into following him to a house, where he raped her.

"Miller-Offiong eventually realised that he had been snared by the very digital footprint that he hoped to use to avoid being identified. Three separate police investigations were also brought together into one prosecution that left nowhere for the defendant to go.

"I hope that other people who may have been affected by revenge porn or other offences following 'catfishing' will have the confidence to come forward in the knowledge that they will be treated with respect, and that their reports will be taken seriously."

Notes to editors

  • Rhys Miller-Offiong [DOB: 17.05.94] is from Catford in the London borough of Lewisham
  • Andrew Hudson is a Senior Crown Prosecutor in the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences unit in CPS London South.
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