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Deputies Arrest Suspected Online Predator

An undercover, online investigation into suspected sexual predators has resulted in the arrest of a Commerce man.

An undercover, online investigation into suspected sexual predators has resulted in the arrest of a Commerce man.

Gregory Franklin Varner, 47, was arrested by investigtors May 12.

An undercover deputy posing as an underage female had chatted with the suspect online since September. According the sheriff's office, he repeatedly asked for nude photos and made numerous other illicit requests and lewd statements.

Varner is charged with enticing a child for indecent purposes and sexual exploitation of a child, both felonies under Georgia law.

On May 12, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Varner’s residence in Jackson County.  Investigators seized computer equipment Varner is suspected of using to communicate with underage females and will be conducting a forensic analysis of the computer.

According to the sheriff's office, the undercover investigator also chatted with the suspect through the social networking site Facebook, a tool often used by teenagers and sometimes children. 

“It is vital for parents to take an active role in the Internet activity of their children," Sgt. Caine Tate, supervisor of the Internet crimes against children program for the sheriff’s office, said in a news release. "If left unchecked, online predators have direct and easy access to children and vulnerable adults.”

The sheriff’s office is encouraging parents to monitor their children’s Internet activity, including chat logs, the history of sites visited and Facebook accounts. Any suspicious activity should be reported to law enforcement.

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