A 28-year-old man pleaded guilty Wednesday to using the internet to extort at least $250,000 from men in Los Angeles, Santa Monica and elsewhere who responded to internet “bait ads” offering gay sex services.

Tyler Buchanan also pleaded guilty in downtown Los Angeles to federal felony charges of using the internet to facilitate unlawful activity and receiving and disposing of extortion proceeds.

U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II set sentencing for May 11, at which time Buchanan will face up to 10 years in federal prison. Buchanan, who will remain in federal custody pending the hearing, could also be sentenced to three years on supervised release, a fine of $750,000 and restitution to be determined.

Over a period of six years, Buchanan would purchase ads on Craigslist, Backpage and other websites that appeared to offer sex services for hire, primarily targeting gay men in multiple cities and states, including numerous locations in Los Angeles and Orange counties, federal prosecutors said.

Once a potential extortion victim responded to one of Buchanan’s so-called bait ads by contacting a listed phone number, the Nevada-based defendant would search online for personal information on the victim, then respond by text to elicit either conversation that was sexual in nature and/or an agreement to engage in a sex act for money, according to his plea agreement filed in Los Angeles federal court.

After a text conversation that could be potentially embarrassing to the victim, Buchanan would threaten to disclose the texts — which often established the man’s sexual interest — as well as threaten to report the victim to law enforcement for solicitation of prostitution — unless extortion money was paid, documents show.

Buchanan — who also used the name “Thuler O’Naill” — posted more than 1,300 bait ads for the scheme, demanding that victims make monthly payments ranging from $100 to $4,000, according to prosecutors.

From about the start of 2018 to last August, Buchanan extorted more than $22,225 from a Los Angeles man. In one of his first threats, Buchanan texted the man, “You’ll pay for it one way or another. You choose.”

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