SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Santa Maria resident Trevor Ferrel, 31, is accused of using a Facebook profile with a fake identity to contact underage girls asking them for nude photographs, and get them to meet in person for sex.
"Ferrel 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 the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's office.
Investigators say Ferrel communicated with an undercover detective posing as an underage girl in September 2017. The two arranged to meet for sex but that meeting never took place. Authorities then served a search warrant on Ferrel's fake social media account and discovered there had been several attempts by Ferrel to contact high school aged girls to solicit nude photos and meet them for sex, the Sheriff's Office says.
In December 2017, investigators say Farrel was again contacted by an undercover detective posing as a different underage girl. The two arranged to meet for sex.
On Jan. 2, authorities say Ferrel arrived at the location he had arranged with the undercover detective at about 2:15 p.m. and was approached by a group of investigators soon after.
Ferrel was arrested and taken to the Sheriff's Santa Maria substation for questioning but was eventually booked into Santa Barbara County Jail for arranging a meeting for the purpose of a lewd act with a juvenile and arriving at a location for the purpose of a lewd act with a juvenile. He is being held on $150,000 bail.
The Sheriff's Office believes there may be several victims at the hands of Ferrel and asks anyone with information on this case to contact the Human Trafficking Unit at 805-934-6245 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Authorities remind parents of the dangers social media presents and encourage them to monitor their children's social media use, and educate them on the potential dangers of online predators.