An extortion scheme that preyed on men seeking dates through an adult chat line unraveled when one of the men alerted police that the two people who orchestrated the crime kept demanding more money, an Erie County prosecutor said Wednesday.
“The victim alerted police when he continued to be contacted,” Assistant District Attorney Ashley Morgan said. “They got too greedy.”
Amber Kwasniewski, 25, of Massachusetts Avenue, recently pleaded guilty in Erie County Court to four counts of fourth-degree grand larceny and Robert Wozniak, 59, of Poinciana Parkway, Cheektowaga, pleaded guilty to three counts of the same charge.
The District Attorney’s Office had enough evidence to pursue the felony charges in four incidents.
Kwasniewski solicited men for sexual encounters in exchange for money after first talking to them on a chat line between January and March. In three cases, Wozniak drove Kwasniewski to where she and the men had agreed to meet.
In one case, Kwasniewski acted alone.
During two of the four encounters, Kwasniewski had sex with the men, Morgan said.
Kwasniewski and Wozniak then demanded money from the men by falsely claiming to be undercover police officers or claiming Kwasniewski was a juvenile who intended to file statutory rape charges, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Wozniak would use what West Seneca detectives described as his “imposing size” to either make threats of being a police undercover officer or an angry father of the supposedly “underaged” Kwasniewski.
The two had the victims’ contact information from the chat line, and they called the men repeatedly demanding more money, even after receiving money initially.
They typically demanded between $200 and $500, and they got the money, Morgan said.
In February, one of the men talked to police about what happened to him.
“This came down to a victim brave enough to come forward,” Morgan said.
Another man also cooperated with authorities, but two others refused to do so.
“People were panicking because they already gave them money,” Morgan said.
Prosecutors relied on statements and other evidence in the other cases in which the two men did not cooperate.
To Kwasniewski and Wozniak, who themselves met through the chat line, the men who met her seemed like ideal extortion targets. The two figured the men would be too afraid to alert police and prosecutors because of their own behavior, Morgan said. None of the men who were targeted in the extortion scheme face any criminal charges, she said.
Some of the men targeted by the pair live in Buffalo, West Seneca and the Town of Boston.
Wozniak and Kwasniewski were arrested in March following a two-month investigation by West Seneca police and state police.
Kwasniewski, who has a prior felony conviction, faces up to 16 years in prison when sentenced June 6 by Erie County Judge Michael D’Amico. Wozniak faces up to 12 years.