FREELAND (WJRT) (12/6/2017) - The Tittabawassee Township Police Department arrested a 37-year-old Freeland man a day after warning parents about him enticing girls on Instagram.
The suspect, Jason Schultz, was arraigned Thursday on two charges, including accosting a child for immoral purposes. He remained in custody at the Saginaw County Jail on $250,000 bond after the hearing.
Schultz, who works as a physician's assistant in the area, is accused of posing as a 12-year-old boy on Instagram and enticing girls in Freeland Community Schools to send him inappropriate photos.
The case highlights a fundamental danger with online communication, according to authorities.
"It's very easy for someone to go online and say they are someone else," said Liz Rich with the Michigan State Police Computer Crimes Division.
That danger is especially real on social media.
"Instagram with the younger crowd right now is more popular than Facebook," Rich said.
Investigators believe Schultz, who is banned from going onto any Freeland schools property, was targeting students there.
Rich is not working on the Freeland case, but her office is busy with plenty of other suspected computer crimes.
"We are getting daily reports of incidents involving predators being online trying to entice children to send them images," she said.
Rich said parents should constantly monitor their children's social media accounts and watch for warning signs.
"Look at their accounts, look at their phones, make sure you have their passwords," she said. "If they are shrinking down screens in front of you or when you walk in a room, then be suspicious of that. Being suspicious is being a good parent."
If parents suspect trouble, they can call police, but there is another option.
"We strongly encourage people to reach out to the National Center for Missing and Expoited Children," Rich said. "There is a cyber tip line there and they can make tips about different kinds of contact their children are having."