'Catch a predator' scheme arrest in Marion County

FOX 35 News at 5 p.m.

- An affidavit obtained by FOX 35 details the arrest of a Dunnellon man in what the Marion County Sheriff's Office describes as an unusual case of extortion.  Deputies allege that David Scalf ran his own extortion scheme, where he would post fake ads on Craigslist to lure adult men to be part of sexual activity with a juvenile female -- with Scalf pretending to be the female.  "This is a very interesting scheme. It's not something we really have ever seen. It's very rare," said Lauren Lettelier, spokesperson for the Marion County Sheriff's Office.   

The report says an undercover detective responded and received an email which stated that an Internet child monitoring system was triggered, threatening his arrest.  Later, the detective got another email. "He can pay a fine of $4,700 and 120 community service hours, so he does not go to jail,” Lettelier said.  Instead, Scalf went to jail, arrested at work on Friday. With a warrant, authorities seized Scalf's tablet and cell phone. The devices had the emails actively loaded and in use, read the affidavit.

Scalf’s boss told FOX 35 that Scalf will be fired, if what MCSO said happened is true.  Since Scalf bonded out of jail, FOX 35’s David Williams went to Scalf's Dunnellon home for comment. No one answered the door.

About Scalf’s alleged extortion scheme, Lettelier said, "He was not stopping acts upon juveniles or minors. He was taking advantage of it. He was extorting people who were trying to partake in these activities for the money."   After being arrested, the affidavit said Scalf gave detailed admissions about his involvement with the extortion scheme. They're trying to find people with whom Scalf had contact.  "This may open up an entire door of investigations for us, if you can only imagine." Lettelier said.

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