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Man Arrested in Farmville as Suspected Internet Predator | News | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

According to reports from WSLS-TV (Roanoke, Va.), the Farmville Herald and confirmation by the Bedford County Sheriff’s office, a man from West Virginia was arrested on an Internet child predator case in Farmville on Oct. 19.  

The investigators on the case were a part of a task force called the Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children (SOVA-ICAC). According to the Sheriff’s department, 31-year-old Eric James Porter of Ranger, W.V. thought he was talking to an underage girl but was actually messaging an undercover ICAC investigator. Porter had been in contact with the undercover investigator multiple times in between the months of August and October and even tried to set up an in-person meeting.

Porter, according to the Sheriff’s office, was exceptionally hard to track down as he was working for a traveling crew in central Virginia and staying in various motels. He was eventually tracked down to the Farmville area where investigators worked with the Farmville Police Department to find him. Upon his arrest, officers seized a laptop, smart phone and various digital storage devices.

Sgt. Steve Anders of the Bedford County Sheriff’s department spoke of many different aspects of the investigation as well as how students and others can be aware of online predators. Anders said Porter was somewhat difficult to track down, seeing as his line of work had him moving around ever two to three weeks. Because of this the department acted very quickly once they pinpointed his location.

On several occasions, Porter suggested meeting in person to whom he thought was an underage girl, but was actually an undercover investigator. It was always Porter, however, who canceled the meeting for one reason or another.

Anders said predators will try anything to get in touch with their victims, from Facebook to video game systems such as Xbox Live. Some will even try sending out random text messages to numbers in order to initiate some kind of contact so they can move forward from there.

While online, Anders suggested college students should be careful on Facebook and should not interact with people they do not know well outside of Facebook. He explained that just because you may be Facebook friends with someone does not necessarily mean they are safe.

Another aspect to be cautious about is posting pictures online. Anders explained that smart phones often have coordinates of the location of the picture taken imbedded in the picture’s information. This new way of tracking people is known as geotagging, which uses the exact longitude and latitude of the smart phone picture to locate where the picture was taken. Anders explained to be careful when posting these pictures, as predators can find the coordinates and use those to find individuals.   

Porter is currently being held in Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville without bond. 

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