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 Matthew T. Murphy is charged in federal court with sexually exploiting children.
Matthew T. Murphy is charged in federal court with sexually exploiting children.Whitman Police

A Whitman man allegedly posed as a teenage girl on the Snapchat app, where he “catfished” two adolescent boys into sending him sexually explicit images, something they did when he threatened to share the images with the victims’ classmates, federal prosecutors said.

Matthew T. Murphy was arrested Tuesday by Homeland Security Investigations agents after they allegedly learned from a man that his son had provided explicit photographs of himself to a “girl” on Snapchat, according to a press release from the US attorney’s office in Boston.

Murphy is currently facing two counts of sexual exploitation of children. He is scheduled to appear in US District Court in Boston on Wednesday for a detention hearing.

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The investigation is continuing. According to federal officials, the Snapchat account allegedly controlled by Murphy was in contact with 386 individuals, most of whom “appear to be minors based on the content of their chats,” according to a federal affidavit by HSI Special Agent Janet Connolly.

Posing as that girl, Murphy allegedly told the 14-year-old boy he knew what middle school he attended and told him during online converations that an image of him in his underwear would be sent to all his classmates unless he sent a nude photo of himself.

The child complied and sent the nude photograph, authorities wrote in court papers. But Murphy, 22, allegedly demanded even more from the boy who fought back during the Internet conversations.

“What is your decision,” the “girl” wrote in Snapchat last Nov. 22, according to a federal affidavit.

“What are the choices?’’ the teen replied. “plz no i’ll do anything but send again.”

“Let me watch you in the shower. You alone rn? Hit vid.”

“No,’’ the boy replied.

“Yup.”

The boy asked why.

“Cuz I said,’’ the person that authorities allege was Murphy responded.

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“I’d rather deal with cops then send again,’’ the boy said, apparently believing that he could face criminal prosecution for sending the photograph.

The boy alerted his father, who in turn notified authorities. Murphy allegedly admitted he owned the Snapchat account and said he was familiar with the boy through volunteer work with a local Boy Scout troop that father and son were active in.

A second boy between the ages of 12 and 14 also sent an explicit photograph, taken while the victim was riding in the back seat of a car after being ordered over Snapchat what to do during an online conversation last July.

“You have a blanket on just hold ur phone in ur pants and send,’’ the boy was instructed allegedly by Murphy. “Well its either you do that or I share with your insta followers rn Send the pic Send.”

The child complied, according to federal prosecutors.


John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.