SOMERVILLE – State and federal authorities on Tuesday announced the arrests of a dozen men who investigators said they duped into thinking that they were arranging to meet with children for sex.

The suspects came from all walks of life, from warehouse and retail employees to white-collar workers including the vice president of a financial firm.

Three of the men crossed state lines from New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut in the hopes of meeting up with underage victims, prosecutors said.

The stings of Operation Spotlight happened from Oct. 15 to 18 following undercover investigations that involved dozens of local and federal law enforcement officials and experts.

Authorities said that confiscated phones will be examined for any evidence of further crimes or actual victims.
Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson and U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Craig Carpenito said investigators posed as underage users of social networking profiles.

"Social media apps allow predators into our homes and as law enforcement, we must do what we can to make it a safer environment," Robertson said. "We hope that this operation will continue to be eye-opening for parents. Although, 12 online child predators have been arrested, parents must learn the apps that their children are using and the inherent dangers within.”

New Jersey 101.5 did not know Tuesday whether any of the suspects had attorneys who could speak on their behalves.

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