TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – It’s the story that rocked a local community.
The FBI released allegations that said 40-year-old Seaman High School teacher Jeff Pierce created fake social media accounts posing as a teenage girl on various sites to ask minors for explicit photos and videos.
“It was very shocking, like, I didn’t believe it at first,” said Jared Kerr, former Seaman High School student.
The Topeka teacher was arrested Wednesday for producing and possessing child pornography.
Kerr claimed to have received messages from one of the accounts Pierce allegedly used after the FBI released a list of usernames. That is when Kerr and other former students began to connect the dots.
“I’ve heard from various men that they were added by this person on Snapchat. Some of them added them, some of them didn’t,” said Madison Dean, former Seaman High School student.
This situation raises the question of how can one tell if a social media account is real or fake?
The number one rule is not to chat with anyone you have not met personally, according to Aaron Crawford, a cybersecurity expert, and owner of Insider Security Agency.
“Talking with this person or stranger on an internet chat room is no different than talking to the strange guy in the windowless van on the street corner,” Crawford said.
Another rule is to check when the account was created, Crawford said. If it was recent, that could be a big red flag.
If someone claims to know you but you don’t recognize their profile picture, you can use tools like reverse image searching from Google by dragging the picture into the search bar, or searching the image’s metadata by using metapicz.
Using those tools, you can view where the image came from, similar images found online, and if the picture had been altered in any way.
However, if you or your children do find yourselves talking with a stranger, Crawford said even a simple Google search could help you find out who exactly you may be talking to.
Search their name and a specific thing they told you about themselves, like what school they go to or where they work. Then check to see if results come up that verify what they said is or is not true.
“You don’t have to be a computer scientist or genius, but you have to be a parent first, and that’s the biggest thing in all of this, is to be a parent,” Crawford said.