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California sex offender attempted to lure Tonawanda teen, pleads guilty

Smartphone helps nab sex offender
Posted at 3:18 PM, Jul 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-15 18:34:41-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A registered California sex offender plead guilty to enticing a Tonawanda teen through the use of social media.

According to authorities, 30-year-old Carlos Lopez convinced a 15-year-old girl through the social media app "Kik" to get on a bus and travel to California. The teen was in a Kik group for kids who wanted to run away. Lopez joined the group too.

In January of 2018, the City of Tonawanda Police received a request to conduct a welfare check on a teen. Officers conducted the check and were able to locate the victim on a bus.

The teen told officers she was traveling to California to visit family, but subsequent interviews revealed that the victim met the sex offender online. Both the victim and Lopez discussed having sex. Lopez made plans for the victim to meet him in California.

Undercover law enforcement arrested Lopez later that month. According to law enforcement, Detective Michael Hockwater, an FBI Task Force Officer, sent messages to Lopez as if he were the teen on the cross country bus ride saying "hey u there... this bus ride sucks." Lopez responded "call or text me. Wait at the station, and ill send an Uber."

Hockwater says the most important thing parents can do to protect their children online is become familiar with the apps they use, and that there's not an app that's bad, just people who use an app for bad purposes.

"It's just us knowing how they work, and keeping an eye on our kids, and being part of their life," he said.

Lopez will be sentenced November 7th. He faces up to maximum life in prison.