SCSO offers online safety tips following internet sting

Seven of the nine men arrested following an undercover internet sting led by the Washington State Patrol faced a judge Monday.

A total of 13 law enforcement agencies worked together to arrest the men by posing as 13-year-olds on various social media sites.

Court documents show one of the men, Wesley Calhoun, 26, asked the supposed 13-year-old he was messaging for a photo in his underwear. Other records show Fire Carrol, 30, told the 13-year-old boy he was communicating with that he had a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy when it came to engaging in sexual activity with teenagers.

The men are accused of communicating with the supposed minors in hopes of having sex with them. They have been charged with attempted rape, commercial sexual abuse of a minor and communication with a minor for immoral purposes.

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office was one of several agencies to assist WSP on the sting, called “Operation Net Nanny.”

Deputy Mark Gregory spoke broadly with KXLY4 about what parents can do to protect their children from online predators. He said parents should never take anything online at face value.

“Just because somebody tells you they’re a 14-year-old girl or 14-year-old male, don’t be talking to those people,” Gregory said. “If you don’t know who they are, don’t have them as friends, don’t allow them into your chat rooms.”

Gregory said parents should monitor their kids’ friends lists on apps like Facebook and Snapchat regularly.

“Pay attention to what your kids are doing on the internet,” Gregory said. “Pay attention to who they’re talking to, what apps they’re using, learn about them, because those are the avenues these predators are using to try to victimize your children.”

He said gaming console chat rooms are also where some online predators communicate with unsuspecting minors.

“Even when you go onto Playstation game modules, you go into some Disney chat world that’s in on this game,” Gregory said. “There are people in there that are trying to find their next victim.”