Kelso School Dist. warns about Facebook predator

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In this Dec. 13, 2011 file photo, a sign with Facebook's "Like" logo is posted at Facebook headquarters near the office for the company's User Operations Safety Team in Menlo Park, Calif. (Paul Sakuma, AP Photo)

KELSO, Wash. (KOIN) — Someone is posing as a teen celebrity and trying to start one-on-one conversations online with local children. That person, police said, could be a sexual predator hiding behind a familiar face on Facebook.

Kelso School District Superintendent Dr. Robert MacGregor sent out a letter to parents Tuesday informing them of the situation. The district sent the letter after being notified by the Kelso Police Department. Police were contacted on Tuesday by the parents of a Kelso student approached online or on Facebook.

MacGregor said there’s no evidence any students have been contacted by the suspect on school grounds, or that the suspect is connected to the district in any way. Kelso police believe the predator is targeting students from high schoolers all the way down into elementary age.

“It’s kind of freaky what he is thinking of doing with these kids,” said Kelso student Kennedy White.

Investigators will only say that the person is posing as a teen celebrity from another country.

“That sort of puts the child at ease and it seems fun,” said Kelso Police Captain Darr Kirk.

While the case is not school related, the Kelso school district sent the letter to parents due to the potential risk to students in the community.

After making contact with the subject on Facebook, the suspected predator reportedly takes it a step further and asks the child to start an instant message conversation.

Instant messaging is “sort of a private piece via Facebook where they can have private conversations with the child, and most times parents are not even aware of it,” Kirk warned.

To help keep a child safe, authorities recommended talking to the child about Internet safety, monitor the child’s Internet use and encourage them to come to you if someone becomes overly personable or makes him or her feel uncomfortable online.

Kelso police are not saying whether they think the suspected predator is from around here. They do say they are actively investigating this case, and they believe there are more victims.

Anyone with information on the suspect, or who thinks their child was contacted by them, should call Kelso police at 360.423.1270.

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