TORONTO — A 40-year-old Bowmanville, Ont. man who was allegedly posing as a 25-year-old woman online has been charged with luring an underage boy through social media.
Police began their investigation in November 2015 after the mother of a 12-year-old boy from York Region reported finding inappropriate chats on his social media account.
Investigators determined the 12-year-old boy had been contacted on Facebook by a person posing as “Jennifer Jackson,” who initiated conversation with the boy by complimenting him on his appearance and asking him to upload a photo of himself.
Police said that as the chats and “online grooming activity” continued over time, they became sexual in nature. They then determined that Jennifer Jackson was a fake profile that was allegedly being operated by a 40-year-old man from Bowmanville.
“This picture could have been grabbed off the internet from anywhere in the world,” Const. Andy Pattenden said in an email.
“If this person ends up being from the GTA and comes forward, we would also like to speak with her.”
On Thursday, police executed a search warrant at the man’s home, took him into custody without incident and seized several electronic devices.
Police said they believed the child’s name was obtained by the accused through his part-time employment at snack shops in various hockey arenas in the Oshawa area.
Investigators are concerned that there may be more victims who were contacted by the accused using the same Facebook profile name — Jennifer Jackson.
Police have released a photo of the profile picture used with the fake Facebook profile and are asking anyone who was contacted by that profile to contact police.
“We have not been able to identify who this person is yet,” Pattenden said.
“At this point we are concerned that there are more victims, so we decided to release the fake profile picture as other parents may have seen the picture pop up on their kids Facebook pages, but may not have thought anything of it.”
Donald Richards, 40, has been charged with two counts of luring a person under the age of 16 by means of telecommunications. He was scheduled to appear in court in Newmarket Tuesday.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the York Regional Police Internet Child Exploitation Unit at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 7078, contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS, leave an anonymous tip online at http://www.1800222tips.com, or text your tip to CRIMES (274637) starting with the word YORK.
Police provided this list of arenas where Richards was believed to have been working:
*EDITOR’S NOTE: At the request of the alleged victim, Global News has removed the photo of her from the story.
© 2016 Shaw Media