A former Boy Scouts leader in Boston has been sentenced to 33 years in prison on Tuesday for sexually exploiting minors.

Matthew Murphy, 25, has been sentenced on Tuesday for communicating with at least 15 individual minors with the intent to extort nude photographs from them, the Department of Justice said in a press release.

Boston police launched an investigation after Murphy’s Snapchat account was flagged for extorting nude photographs from a middle-school boy.

After an initial investigation, it came to light that Murphy had used at least five different accounts since 2017 to reach out to about 386 individuals, mostly minors, on the social messaging app. He reportedly would identify himself as a teenage girl on these accounts, taking on personas of varying ages from 13 to 17, depending on the age of the underaged boys he sought to prey upon, The Enterprise reported.

According to authorities, Murphy received about 1,000 images and 200 videos of sexually explicit material from these predatory interactions.

Law enforcement has also levied at least one instance of blackmail against Murphy, after he allegedly coerced a boy to send a nude photograph, by threatening to circulate an embarrassing picture of the victim around his school.

The Patriot Ledger reported that Murphy has met with at least one of his victims in real life, at a Boy Scouts event that he volunteered at. However, the sex offender said that he never planned or arranged to meet any of his other victims.

Murphy allegedly sought out potential victims by “befriending” targets on Snapchat before going through their contacts to find other underage minors.

Boston police arrested Matthew Murphy in March 2019 after a thorough investigation, backed by a subpoena from Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, Inc., revealed the deceit.

“As a Boy Scout leader, he was looked to as not just a leader in name, but also a mentor, a friend, and a role model in practice, based on the persona that he projected to those in his orbit,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne Paruti said. “In that respect, Matthew Murphy is every parent’s worst nightmare: a predator hiding in plain sight.”

The case was prosecuted in partnership with the Department of Justice initiative Project Safe Childhood, a program that started in 2006 made to protect children from exploitation and abuse.

At least 15 minors have fallen victim to the catfishing and sexual exploitation of Matthew Murphy. This is a representational picture. Unsplash

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