Men arrested in South Bend after internet prostitution sting

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- They thought they were meeting a prostitute for a sexual encounter, but instead they got busted in an over night police prostitution sting.

Three Michiana men were booked into the St. Joseph County jail after the South Bend Police Department's Street Crimes Unit conducted an undercover internet sting. 

They are sending a message that they are cracking down on social media prostitution.

The unique part of it is all of the interactions were done via social media internet websites up until the in person meetings were arranged in South Bend.

Lt. Dan Skibins, the commander of Street Crimes Unit for SBPD said,"We ended up arresting three individuals for soliciting a prostitute."

Those three individuals are 56-year-old David Ford of St. Joseph, Mi., 23-year-old Nathan Jenkins, of Rochester, IN., and 34-year-old Brandon Mafuleka, of Mishawaka.

Lt. Skibins said the investigation was sparked after they received several complaints about the website. Several tips came in that the website allows prostitution solicitations.

"Within the website there are different categories, if you will, that you can look for an escort, for a massage, or they just come out and say dollar amount. To put a post on the website you need an email set up. So a lot of the communication is done via email, text conversations, phone conversations," said Lt. Skibins.

An internet prostitution investigation takes a lot more time to conduct verses the traditional prostitution sting where an undercover female officer is used as a decoy prostitute on the street.

"Looking into what we found, the tips and the complaints were to be accurate, so we used an undisclosed location and in the past few days we dealt with the investigation by putting together a sting operation," said Lt. Skibins.

The actual sting took place Saturday evening and continued overnight into Sunday early morning. Lt. Skibins said when it was all said and done three men showed up at undisclosed locations expecting to exchange money for a sexual encounter.

Lt. Skibins said, "Through conversation the crime of soliciting a prostitute was discovered. Then later at this undisclosed location the arrests were made. We are hopeful that the sting operation future and more sting operations in the future and that sort of thing will prevent people or deter them from wanting to use the website for criminal activity."

Police say there may be more arrests stemming from the overnight sting that could be revealed at a later date.

The Street Crimes Unit is not done with this investigation -- they plan to continue to watch closely social media sites for this type of illegal activity in the South Bend and surrounding areas. 

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