A Broward County man used the popular game Fortnite to recruit an underage teen to engage in sexual activity and get pornographic photos and videos of the minor, and investigators believe there could be as many as 20 more victims, authorities said Thursday.
Anthony Gene Thomas, 41, is facing charges of soliciting a child for unlawful sexual conduct using computers, traveling to meet a minor for unlawful sexual activity, possession with intention to promote sexual performance of a child, 22 counts of child pornography and unlawful sexual activity with a minor, Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Office announced.
Authorities said a co-conspirator of Thomas made contact with the victim through Fortnite and introduced the teen to Thomas. Thomas manipulated the victim with gifts, including credit cards and a cellphone, and eventually arranged to pick up the victim in Brevard County and take the victim to Broward in August 2018, authorities said.
Thomas engaged in sexual activity with the victim but police found the teen after the teen's parents called police to declare the teen missing, authorities said.
Investigators later served a search warrant on Thomas' phone and found pornographic images and videos of the victim, authorities said.
"This case is disturbing not only because it involves child pornography, but also because a popular online game was used to communicate with the victim," Moody said in a statement. "We have reason to believe there could be additional victims, and I am asking anyone with information about the recruiting of minors for child pornography, or any other type of sexual exploitation, to call law enforcement immediately."
Thomas remained behind bars in Broward County Thursday but will face the charges in Brevard. Attorney information wasn't available.