There was some unusual law enforcement activity in Sarasota yesterday.
Police vehicles from Polk, Pinellas, Manatee , Clearwater, Northport, Bradenton and FDLE all converged on the Sarasota Police Department yesterday. Usually, this means that another Florida sex sting is in the works. Unfortunately, often men who have no intentions of ever hooking up with a minor get talked into chatting or texting with undercover police investigators. Let me remind you, the best way not to get arrested is to simply not commit a crime. In recent months the police have been running child pornography stings engaging men on the Internet hinting towards an exchange of kiddie porn on peer to peer file sharing programs. Never, no never, receive or transmit child pornography. It is a crime. Do not do it. If someone suggests it, terminate contact immediately. If someone sends you an unsolicited child pornography image you have a problem. If you truly did not intend to receive it, you may find yourself in a situation where you are in possession of something you never intended to possess. I have suspected for years that the police are sending some of the illegal images to entrap people into transmitting images back to them. The police then track the images back to an IP address, get a search warrant and then charge someone with a crime. It is a tough world out there and as much as I would like to believe police do not engage in illegal activity, I have my suspicions.
The latest child sex sting they are running is where a father or an uncle is pretending to have a son or nephew that needs “teaching”. The undercover stings target adult gay men, luring them with a promised encounter with a 13 or 14 year old boy. It is a crime to have sex with an under aged boy. Do not even think about doing it. I am a believer that the best way to lower the crime rate is to encourage people not to commit a crime.The police are getting desperate and when they cannot catch people committing a crime, they simply create one with one of their so called “Operations”.The police have moved away from Craigslist Casual Encounters and are now using a more subtle approach with other adult social media sites. They still troll the adult dating sites like Adam4Adam, Omegle, Backpage and others. Many lonely men fall for the bait and switch and get roped into doing something they would never think about doing. Do your part towards reducing the crime rate. Do not commit a crime. Do not get entrapped. If you see a minor on the Internet suggesting sex, Flag the ad. Do your part to keep minors off the Internet. Education, not prosecution is the answer. Prevention, not prosecution is the solution. Let’s all do our part.
Things are changing when it comes to Florida Internet Sex Stings.Until recently, the police were spending most of their time on Craigslist, Backpage and Adam4Adam in sex stings.For several years, the police regularly trolled the Internetposting deceptive ads in adult web sites and then doing their basic bait and switch.Although they continue to dominate those sites, the police recently have switched to other Internet sites like Meetme and have engaged unsuspecting adults with modern applications like Omegle and kik.Omegle provides online real time chat and allows people to communicate with strangers sometime with random pairing.Omegle allows people 13 and up to communicate which makes it fair game for the police to troll.Omegle also allows unmonitored real time video chat which means that people can in “real time” do some pretty gross stuff presumably in front of each other.My advice to everyone is to stay off this site.
Another common tactic for the police is for them to contact adults who have posted profiles on Meetme or other social media sites and then suggest that the parties go to kik to continue messaging.Although kik is often simply a mistype of lol and an accident, it now means going to a special application where parties can engage in real time texting.When the police run a sting they have access to all of the latest technology.If youkik witha copand send a sexually explicit image to what they claim is a minor you could find yourself arrested and charged with sending harmful material to a minor.Worse yet, if they talk you into traveling to meet a minor you will find yourself arrested and on some Sheriff’s media circus.Here are some basic rules.
Young girls are not on the Internet looking to have sex with adult men.If by accident you encounter someone on the Internet that suggests they are underage and looking for someone to teach them, terminate all contact and flag it if you can.There is a misconception that minors are on the Internet looking for sex.The truth is, most of the time it is an undercover cop, working with his cohorts, trying to set you up for an arrest.Do not even think about having sex with a person under 18.Although the age of consent in Florida is sixteen, if you are over 24 it is still a crime to have sex with a seventeen year old.In some of the recent stings, the police undercover chatters claim to be 17 to lure you in.
As an Internet sex sting lawyer, I have seen it all.Things are really changing and the Internet is not a safe place for even consenting adults to “hookup”.You can expect to see more sex stings in the future.Sarasota is overdue and my prediction is that in the near future they will be up and running here.Do not put yourself in danger.Never communicate with a minor, even out of curiosity.As they say, curiosity killed the cat.