Everyone gravitates toward Facebook to connect and share their favorite ideas and content with their extended social groups. Teens are no different, and that's why I was so relieved when I saw that a Facebook predator is now facing justice.
It's not hard to make a fake Facebook account. When 22-year-old Brandon McIntyre decided to use a fake name to stalk a young girl online, he probably didn't expect to get caught.
Using the fake name "Katie Thompson," McIntyre tried to stalk and bully the girl online. He used the alias to threaten her family, boyfriend and personal safety unless she sent him explicit pictures of herself.
When that didn't work, the creep pretended to be a police officer who would make her life a "living hell" unless she complied with his demands.
The girl (who, as a minor can't be named) wasn't having it. She contacted police.
A joint investigation paired local police with the FBI's Child Exploitation Task Force. Though they aren't entirely clear on the methods behind how they tracked this creep down, one thing is for sure: Run-of-the-mill criminals believe that no one is watching.
Using a fake name on Facebook doesn't mean that the FBI can't find you. McIntyre, I expect, probably used an email address or revealed information about his geographical location that helped authorities figure out his real identity.
Although he is currently serving a 180-day jail sentence in Hunterdon County Jail, McIntyre was charged with stalking and sexual exploitation of a minor.
If convicted, he could face five years in prison and up to 30 years in jail.
As a mother, I'm always on guard to make sure that my son is being safe online. I keep an eye on his social media activity and make certain that he understands that if he ever feels unsafe or threatened that I'm the one he should talk to.
Even then, it's hard to keep up with what teens are up to online. Here are some of my recent tips and news that might help you keep the teen in your life safe from people like Brandon McIntyre.
- 5 dangerous apps that you don't know your kids are using
- This game could save your teen's life
- Then terrible new teen trend: Selfies at funerals