Seventeen people were arrested on internet sex crimes allegations during a three-day sting operation dubbed Operation Black Veil. The men arrested had attempted to set up meetups with a 15-year-old via the casual encounters section of Craigslist.
Online users and Craigslist itself tried to stop the police officers sting operation. Ads posted by officers posing as teens willing to participate in sex acts with adults were flagged by other users. The officers' posts had to be made from three different IP addresses as Craigslist vetted its own users.
Those officers who were corresponding with the men about potential meetups were instructed to:
- Not initiate the meetup. The meetup must be suggested and pushed by the non-police officer.
- Ensure that the person with whom they were chatting knew that they were underage. Preferably, the non-officer involved in the online exchange should acknowledge or reference the teen age of the officer.
- Not reveal that they were cops. Even when asked straight out if they were police, the officers involved in the online exchanges were instructed to say no.
According to those working the internet sex crimes sting operation, police are under no legal duty to inform someone that they are a cop unless they are involved in a search or chase.
The internet sex crime sting operation took place in Wisconsin with assistance from the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC). But, this type of sting can take place anywhere. If you are attempting to engage others for a sexual meetup online, be sure that the person with whom you are corresponding is 18 years old or older. Or, you may be facing criminal charges for internet sex crimes or exploitation of a minor.
Source: Green Bay Press Gazette, "Casual Encounters: An inside look at the Internet child sex crime investigation that led to 17 arrests around Wisconsin," March 19, 2013