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An Indian-origin man allegedly caught in a sting operation on YouTube has been charged by a US federal prosecutor with attempting to entice a minor for sex through a dating app.
“Anand Singh allegedly attempted to entice an individual, who he believed to be a 14-year-old, to meet for sexual purposes, via dating and text apps”, Damian Williams, the federal prosecutor for Southern New York, said on Monday.
“Today’s arrest is a reminder of the inherent danger the internet could potentially pose to our youth and the critical importance to protect them from online predators,” he said.
From the court document, it appears that the sting operation was organised by non-officials, who recorded the interaction and uploaded it on YouTube alerting the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Singh, who worked for a local legislature of a suburban county, allegedly went to an apartment complex in New Jersey last December to meet the person who had posed as a 14-year-old girl, according to the prosecutor’s office.
On a dating app called “Hily”, he allegedly “repeatedly expressed, in graphic and unambiguous terms, his desire to engage in sexual activity with the individual and made a plan to meet her”, according to the complaint filed against him.
The complaint filed by Erica Buonocore, an FBI special agent investigating crimes against children, said that last month she was alerted to a YouTube video about communications between a person named “Anand” and another posing as a 14-year-old girl, who is identified only as “Reporter-1” in the court document.
Buonocore said that she interviewed the person identified as “Reporter-2” who uploaded the video on YouTube and got access to the communications between Singh and “Reporter-1” as well as the phone and the “Hily” account and was able to track him down.
The complaint includes the obscene language Singh allegedly used in communicating with “Reporter-1” thinking the person to be a 14-year-old and making the appointment for a sexual encounter.
After showing some initial hesitation, Singh allegedly went to meet “Reporter-1”, who had told him that her mother worked overnight shifts, according to the complaint.
Buonocore said that a video she reviewed showed Singh in the building lobby after messaging “Reporter-1” he was coming over and him leaving when “Reporter-2” went up to him.
The offence Singh is charged with carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison if he is convicted.