ABC57 Investigation into catfishing sex offender results in federal conviction

NOW: ABC57 Investigation into catfishing sex offender results in federal conviction


SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- What started as an ABC57 investigation in November, ended in the conviction and prison sentencing of a convicted sex offender. 46-year-old Jeffrey Cooper was sentenced to 8 months in prison this morning for violating the terms of his supervised release from a child porn conviction in 2012.

Cooper, who was not supposed to be on the internet without approval from his probation officer, used the internet and the picture of a fallen South Bend Police officer to dupe a woman from England into flying to South Bend. 

That woman, Virginia Johnson, initially reported the incident to the Mishawaka Police Department, but after nobody called her back, she came to ABC57. We discovered the man who tricked her was a convicted sex offender. Just days after our report, he was in jail facing federal charges.

ABC57's story was mentioned in court today. The prosecution only pursed charges of violations of Cooper's supervised release. But, both the prosecution and the judge said the scheme was egregious. The judge said it was "frightening" and questioned Cooper's motive in doing so.

However, the actual scam didn't appear to break any laws. So, further charges at the state and federal will not be pursued.

Cooper apologized to the court saying "I really disappointed a lot of people." 

"My family is kind of ruined right now because I did what I wanted to do. I'm truly sorry it happened. I should have come forward and gotten the help I needed." Cooper added.

With time served, Cooper will be out of prison in about 3 months. He will also be off of supervision at that time. His probation office was in court today and explained that keeping him on probation doesn't make sense because he continues to violate the terms. Cooper will still be held to state and local sex offender restrictions upon his release.

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