SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. - A mother’s curiosity about her son’s social media use led Johns Creek Police to a man accused of trying to lure the teen into a sexual relationship, authorities said.
“It’s shocking,” the woman, whose identity is being concealed to protect her 14-year-old son, told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik. “Very, very upsetting.”
The woman said her son’s phone had broken, so he was using hers, and when he returned it she noticed that his Instagram account was open and there were messages from a man whose name she didn’t recognize.
“At first it was talking about normal things, like shoes and clothes and things like that, but then it got to be very strange,” she said.
Police said 62-year-old Mohamed El-Saawy eventually began discussing taking the teen on a trip to Miami.
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Police said El-Saawy sells high-end designer shoes online and met the teen at a shoe convention in Gwinnett County, then continued to talk to him via social media.
“There were some comments about sexual things, being comfortable with each other and undressing in front of each other,” the boy's mother said.
She said she allowed the discussion to continue so she could gather more evidence to take to police.
“I went into the house and actually brought him out with the suitcase, and then the police came and explained to him what was going on,” she said.
Johns Creek police had the woman set up a meeting with El-Saawy and recorded it.
“She arranges the meeting, wanting to know what his plans were, what his purpose was in this,” said Capt. Chris Byers. “Everything that happened there built the probable cause we need.”
Police arrested El-Saawy last week in Sandy Springs. He is charged with a number of offenses, including enticing a minor.
“I was relieved,” said the boy's mother. “I want him to be off the street. I want him to go to jail. I don’t want him to be able to do this to another child.”
She said she urges other parents to do what she did.
“Be vigilant,” she said. “It’s not invading their privacy. It’s making sure that they stay safe.”
Ben Halpert, who runs a nonprofit called Cyber Savvy Kids, told Petchenik that is exactly the position that parents should take with their children.
“It’s really good for parents to have the conversation with kids, to talk to them about what they’re doing online, what apps they use, who their 'friends' are,” he said. “If you’re going to monitor your kids' social media, monitor their technology use, you need to tell them, and tell them why. Tell them you’re doing it to protect them.”
El-Saawy has bonded out of jail. His attorney, Holly Hughes, told Petchenik that she will wait to see the evidence before making any comments about the case.
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