Monroe Village Police say a 17-year-old Washingtonville teen created a fictitious Facebook page, using the name Nick Canaro, that attracted more than 1,200 friends, many of them young girls between 13 and 14. Although police said they do not believe the teen made physical contact with any of the girls, he was charged with endangering the welfare of a child after he began texting sexually explicit comments to a 13-year-old Monroe girl who friended Nick Canaro and then exchanged telephone numbers with him.
MONROE — The relationship began innocently enough.
Through his Facebook page, Nick Canaro wanted to befriend the 13-year-old girl from Monroe.
She had never met the boy she befriended, who also said that he was 13, but the two had many mutual friends on Facebook, so she agreed to accept his friend request.
The two exchanged telephone numbers. And began texting.
Within two days, though, what started out as getting to know you texts turned sexual explicit.
That’s when the girl broke off contact and informed her parents, who in turn contacted police.
The hunt for Nick Canaro was on.
Monroe Village Police received the complaint on Tuesday, Dec. 4.
“Word spread around town about this incident and another similar incident involving Nick Canaro in the Town of Woodbury, but no one seemed to know or actually have met Nick Canaro,” Monroe Det. James Frankild said. “Some parents, as well as our department, believed that it may be a fictitious Facebook account run by a person targeting young girls, as most of the more than 1,200 friends on Nick Canaro’s Facebook page were young girls, so we began to investigate.”
The investigation led police to a 17-year-old man from Washingtonville.
Texting but no contact
“Our interview with him revealed that he created the fictitious Facebook account of Nick Canaro and used a smart phone application to mask his true telephone number so when he was texting with the young girls his real telephone number would not show,” Frankild said. “He specifically targeted 13 and 14 year old girls for the purpose of engaging them in conversation through texting and would try and direct the conversation to a sexual nature.
“Based on our investigation,” the detective added, “we do not believe that he ever actually met any of the girls that he chatted with online or by text.”
On Thursday, Dec. 6, Monroe Police charged the 17-year-old with endangering the welfare of a child,a misdemeanor. Police are not releasing the young man’s name because he may be eligible for youthful offender status. His case will be heard in Monroe Village Court in January.
After processing at Monroe Police Headquarters, the youth was turned over to the Town of Woodbury Police Department where he faces a similar charge.
Frankild said parents and children alike need to be aware that people on Facebook, or on any social media site, may not be what they portray, and so need to be cautious.
“The fictitious Facebook profile of Nick Canaro had more than 1,200 friends despite the fact that he didn’t exist and no one ever knew or met him,” the detective said. “What is scary is he was able to convince more than 1,200 people to become his friend, the majority being young girls, and open up all of the personal items contained in their Facebook profile to him.”
Parents, Frankild added, “should speak with their children about accepting friend requests from people they don’t know and the possible consequences of doing so. We encourage parents to go through their children’s Facebook friends list and ensure that their friends list are people that they actually know and monitor what their kids are doing on social media sites.”
Frankild said he contacted Facebook and had the social media giant deactivate Nick Canaro’s page.