The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Santa Maria man Tuesday for allegedly using a fake Facebook account to victimize young girls and is seeking the public’s help to find other potential victims.

At about 2:15 p.m. Tuesday, investigators from the sheriff’s Human Trafficking Unit arrested 31-year-old Trevor Ferrel for allegedly trying to meet and give money to a young girl in exchange for sex acts.

Detectives started investigating Ferrel in August after the unit received information that he had allegedly used an alias Facebook profile to contact juvenile or teen-aged girls to solicit nude pictures and to get them to meet and participate in various sex acts.

Ferrel reportedly would use various tactics to make this happen including threatening to post the nude pictures he was sent, to notify their parents or offering to pay money for sex acts, said Kelly Hoover, Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman.

In September, Ferrel communicated with an undercover detective posing as a young girl. According to investigators, the Santa Maria man arranged to meet the undercover detective thinking he was arranging to pay a young girl for specific sex acts.

The meeting never happened, but investigators continued to watch Ferrel’s online movements via a search warrant.

Last month, investigators made contact with Ferrel again and set up a sting for Jan. 2. Undercover detectives arranged to exchange money for sex with a juvenile. This time, he showed up and was taken into custody.

He was charged with arranging to meet a juvenile for the purpose of lewd acts and arriving at a location for the purpose of a lewd act with a juvenile.

He was committed to the Santa Barbara County Jail on $150,000 bail.

“Due to the fact the case involves juveniles, we are not able to release further information about the suspect’s online false identity,” Hoover said.

Get news headlines sent daily to your inbox

Sheriff detectives believe Ferrel may have victimized multiple victims and are asking the public’s help in their investigation.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Human Trafficking Unit by calling 934-6245 or e-mailing humantrafficking@sbsheriff.org.

Anonymous tips can be made by calling 681-4171 or visiting www.sbsheriff.org/home/anonymous-tip/.

“The Sheriff’s Office would like to remind parents of the dangers associated with social media regardless of the platform. We encourage parents to monitor their children’s social media use and to educate them on the potential dangers of online predators,” Hoover said.

Logan B. Anderson covers city government in Santa Maria for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter: @LoganBAnderson.

3
1
1
1
1

City Government Reporter