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Man accused of lying about age on app to prey on teenagers

Michael Bell is charged with four counts of lewd and lascivious battery.
Michael Bell is charged with four counts of lewd and lascivious battery.(Bay County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 3:00 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A Panama City man is accused of lying about his age to hook-up with underage girls.

Bay County Sheriff’s Deputies say Michael Bell, 20, is charged with four counts of lewd or lascivious battery.

Investigators say Bell was communicating with a 13-year-old using the app Snapchat. Snapchat allows users to send videos, photos, or messages that self-destruct. Deputies say that the messages made the teen believe Bell was also a teenager and much younger. They say the messaging lead to a face-to-face meeting inside the victim’s home. They say that’s when Bell committed sexual acts with the victim.

During that investigation, deputies identified another victim. They say the second victim was 15-years-old. The second victim reportedly told investigators she met with Bell after communicating with him on Snapchat. Investigators say Bell and this victim met up at both her home and his home, where sexual acts occurred. They say throughout the communications between the victim and Bell, Bell lied about his age again.

Deputies contacted Bell, who they say admitted to the allegations and lying about his age to both victims.

The Bay County Sheriff’s Office wants to remind parents and guardians to stay aware of any social media or messaging apps children are using.

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