WHITMAN — A Whitman man has been arrested and is facing allegations that he sexually exploited children after he created a fake social media account.
Matthew Murphy, 22, of Temple Street in Whitman, was charged in federal court on Tuesday on two counts of sexual exploitation of children.
Murphy posed as a teen girl using a Snapchat account to extort nude photographs from a Massachusetts middle school boy. The investigation of the alleged incidents was detailed in the charging documents, according to a press release from the United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent in charge.
Federal agents obtained portions of the Snapchat account Murphy had created in the fake identity and uncovered evidence of similar extortion of other minors in the area, according to the press release.
Murphy was detained pending a detention hearing scheduled for Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.,
Agents and Whitman police executed a search warrant of Murphy’s home where he was placed under arrest.
“It is a reminder that these predators are out there,” said Whitman Police Chief Scott Benton. “They want to prey on and take advantage of the innocence of children.”
Law enforcement is actively working to identify additional victims. Members of the public with questions or information about this matter should call 617-748-3274 or Whitman police at 781-447-1212.
“During the execution of the search warrant at his home, Murphy admitted that the fake account was his, and investigators found forensic evidence of the account on some of his electronic devices. Murphy was subsequently arrested,” according to the press release.
The charges of sexual exploitation of children each provide for a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years and no greater than 30 years in prison, a minimum of five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston, made the announcement Wednesday. The Whitman Police Department provided valuable assistance with the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne Paruti, Lelling’s Project Safe Childhood Coordinator and a member of his Major Crimes Unit, is prosecuting the case.
The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood. In 2006, the Department of Justice created Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, visit projectsafechildhood.gov/.