Do Internet Sex Stings Catch Real Predators?

Every time an Internet sex sting is run, like the latest one here in Sarasota, elected officials, usually the Sheriff, make press releases making it appear the community is being saved from sex predators.  The simple truth is that the police are creating a crime and most of the time arresting a man who was not looking for a child, or for that matter sex.  Now that Craigslist Casual Encounters has been shut down by the Feds, local law enforcement, to keep the arrest statistics up, has started trolling the regular social media dating sites like or  The pattern is always the same.  First, the detective creates a profile as an adult.  The application may randomly match that profile with an unsuspecting man.  Generally, a photograph is posted with the profile.  Lonely, socially shy men respond and engage in texting and chat.  Eventually, the detective will say something like “I lied, I am really 14” or something like “I am too young to drive”.  Simply chatting with a minor can lead to an arrest.  No adult man should even chat or text with a minor, much less ever discuss sex.  The best way to not get arrested is to never chat with a minor about anything.

News flash guys….There are no teenage girls that are even remotely interested in having an older man teach them anything about sex.  If you are on some dating site and someone mentions or hints that they are underage…terminate the conversation and block them.  It is always an undercover cop.  Some people mistakenly believe that if they ask “are you a cop?” the detectives have to respond truthfully.  That is a total misconception.  Police do not have to acknowledge they are law enforcement.  The Internet sex stings in Sarasota, Manatee and Ft. Myers are not going to stop.  ICAC, the Internet Crimes against Children entity,  funds some local law enforcement activities and the locals have to produce results (arrests).  Naïve young socially inept men are prime targets.  I have defended over forty of these cases, including men with autism and other psychological weaknesses.  The police target the weak lonely men that are rarely real predators.  Never under any circumstances send a naked pic or a dick pic to anyone, even an adult.  The Internet is a dangerous place.

There is now running an Internet scam where the scammer engages a man in chat and sends a naked pic of a teenager.  Shortly thereafter, there is more contact by a person pretending to be law enforcement, threatening an arrest unless money is sent in the guise of some type of “Diversion” program.  Another common scam is when a text or email is sent from what purports to be a parent who has “discovered” his or her child’s chat.  The person will claim that they took the child’s phone or computer and destroyed it.  They will hit you up for money.  The police never, no never, ask for money.  It is always a scam.  Internet sex stings are not going to stop.  It creates arrests and convictions and drives up crime statistics for law enforcement.  A single sex sting can result in 20 to 30 arrests and convictions that render people sex offenders for life.  What we need here in Florida is prevention.  The police need to be in the middle schools warning young boys and girls of the danger of the Internet.  Kids need to be warned that “sexting” with other kids can get them arrested.  Our kids live in a dangerous Internet world and crime prevention should be a priority.  In the average sting, 20 to 30 officers are involved with hundreds of man hours.  That time could be better spent on educating our children, but that does not make for headlines.  What a waste?  The general public is in most instances misled about what really happens in these stings.  There are hundreds of men in Florida prisons who fell for this entrapment ploy.  The Internet Sex Stings need to stop.

Sarasota and Bradenton Criminal Defense Attorney Peter D Aiken 941-366-3506 Representing the Florida Accused