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Mastermind who vowed to help hundreds find love using 'witchcraft' sentenced to 2 years

Ariel Boiteux had customers record sexually explicit rituals and then demanded they pay him to keep them off social media, federal officials said.

The Argentine mastermind of an international “witchcraft extortion scheme” who targeted hundreds of people looking for love was sentenced to two years in federal prison Monday.

Ariel Boiteux, 31, offered to help people find love using magic spells and advertised his services on Facebook and Instagram, the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California said in a news release.

When people contacted Boiteux’s company, Ammares Inmediatos, they were told to record themselves performing sexually explicit rituals, the release said. Boiteux then threatened to post the videos on social media unless they paid him “large sums of money.”

The Los Angeles Times reported that Boiteux targeted roughly 200 people in countries including the United States, Switzerland, Mexico and Spain. Three other people were also arrested in the scheme, including Boiteux's 15-year-old brother, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

In one case, authorities said, Boiteux demanded $250,000 from a “well-connected public figure with access to significant financial resources.”

Boiteux was arrested in Paraguay after an undercover agent with the Department of Homeland Security offered to buy recordings of another victim that had been posted to a public website.

Boiteux was charged with foreign transmission of an extortionate threat. He was extradited to San Diego in July and pleaded guilty to the charge in December, the Los Angeles Times reported.