An observant parent looking through her 13-year-old son's cell phone discovered photos and videos of a nude, teenaged girl and alerted the Frederick County Sheriff's office, but detectives soon learned “Daniella from Colorado” was not what she appeared to be.
The person was posing as a 16-year-old girl from another state. They were sending pictures of a female who appeared to be the age of 16. They were offering the victims things like gift cards, like PlayStation 4 gift cards, Xbox gift cards, things of that nature,” said Det. Timothy Moore, Jr.
According to charging documents, gift cards and pornographic pictures in exchange for the victim to share pictures performing perverted practices with objects like pillows and teddy bears.
The person soliciting the material had used the “quick add” feature of Snapchat to find victims and would threaten to release their photos if they attempted to block them from the app.
“We do an assortment of IP addresses and we get things like subscriber information from certain companies that are associated with certain accounts. That's pretty much what led us to him. It could be a search warrant for the Snapchat account. It could be anything that connects him to that account, and through that, we were able to get his subscriber information,” said Moore.
Police found out the identity of the subscriber behind the crimes, 21-year-old Jake Tyler Patterson of Adamstown, and arrested him last week on campus at UMBC where he was a student.
“I think he was surprised, but he seemed like he knew this was coming sooner or later,” said Moore.
The investigation also revealed that Patterson had lured another 15-year-old male into the same trap, and while a parent helped end the scheme, investigators say it's important for children to learn how to better protect themselves.
“Especially for young kids out there on these social media apps—-just to be careful who you are talking to... especially if you don't know the person,” said Moore, “Never accept anything from someone you don't know. Always tell a parent if you believe someone is trying to entice you into something that you're not comfortable with.”