COLUMBIA — A Columbia man was arrested in connection with using Facebook under a fake identity to contact teenage Boy Scouts for sexually graphic pictures and engage in sexual acts.
The profile stated that the man was Sarah McGee, a young female from Columbia.
Anyone who has been contacted by a person named Sarah McGee of Columbia should call the Cyber Crimes Task Force at 442-4302.
The task force also encourages parents of young boys, especially Boy Scouts, to speak with their children regarding contact with the person purporting to be McGee.
"You never know who you are talking to online unless you have met them in person, like at school," said Andy Anderson, a detective with the Mid-Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force. "Kids need to be careful. They need to think about what they are doing and if what the person is asking seems to be legitimate."
As McGee, the man contacted boys who had attended Boy Scout camps during the past few summers, when he was serving as an adult scout leader. Potential victims have been identified across Missouri, in towns including Columbia, Hannibal and Sedalia.
"Enticing kids to take photographs is a big problem, and crimes against kids are part of every day in the Internet community," Anderson said. "But this specific case is atypical because of its magnitude."
The Boy Scouts of America initially contacted the Boone County Sheriff's Department to lodge a complaint about inappropriate Facebook interactions with Boy Scouts from someone they thought to be an adult male counselor.
In November, the Cyber Crimes Task Force began investigating the case and obtained search warrants for Sarah McGee's Facebook and email account. They found that "she" had been in contact with several boys between the ages of 14 and 17.
"That age is the most susceptible," Anderson said. "They are on the internet the most, they are on it without supervision and they are easy to solicit."
Across Missouri, there are 14 local Internet Cyber Crimes Against Children task forces. Last year, they investigated more than 1,800 cases involving enticement of children, obscenity toward minors, possession of child pornography, manufacturing of child pornography and distribution of child pornography. That doesn't include investigations from other categories, or those done outside of the task force, he said.
Ian F. Burow, 22, was arrested Thursday on three felony counts related to cyber crimes against minors. He was being held on a $75,000 bond at the Boone County Jail.
Regarding one victim, Burow was arrested on suspicion of one count of promoting a sexual performance by a child and one count of sexual exploitation of a minor. Regarding a second minor victim, he was arrested on suspicion of one count of attempted promotion of a sexual performance by a child.
"The internet is a cool device, but it can clearly be dangerous. The No. 1 thing parents must do is talk to their children about proper usage, appropriate usage and safety on the Internet," Anderson said. "And it can't be a one-time conversation. It has to be ongoing."