Carmello Raffa, a Coconut Creek, Florida restaurant manager, was arrested Wednesday after he was accused of posing as a modeling agent in order to trick a 16-year-old employee into sending him sexually explicit photos, news sources report. Raffa, 42, was booked into the Broward County Main Jail on charges of using a computer to solicit, lure or seduce a child, promoting the sexual performance of a child, and distributing obscene material to a child. A county judge set Raffa’s bail bond at $30,000. Reports did not say whether Raffa has obtained an attorney.
According to reports, Raffa worked as manager at the Lime Fresh Mexican Grill on Lyons Road in Coconut Creek. The victim worked at the restaurant at the same time as Raffa, sources allege. Following Raffa’s arrest, a ranking manager at Line Fresh Mexican Grill has announced that Raffa has been fired, reports say.
Raffa reportedly told the girl about a former employee who was working as a calendar model in the Florida Keys. “Makes a lot of money. She is working with a company and she made $1,500 in 3 days,” he allegedly told her. To make the claim seem more legitimate, Raffa created a phony email, posed as the former employee, and used that identity to send the victim emails claiming the modeling job was real, reports say.
The victim emailed the apparent former employee back, who in turn gave the victim another phony email, this time for a model recruiter, sources say. In actuality, however, the recruiter’s email also belonged to Raffa, sources claim. In response to emails requesting photos, reports say the victim then sent a shirtless image of herself to the phony recruiter’s email address.
Between July 21 and 25, the teen got more emails from the “modeling agency” asking for partially-naked and lewd images, as well as the victim’s bra size. According to reports, the emails implied that time was of the essence and asked her to submit the illicit photos as quickly as she could. Reports say the victim complied and sent Raffa the images, believing it was still the calendar recruiter.
The scheme started to fall apart when Raffa requested completely nude photos, reports say. The victim sensed that something was wrong contacted the former employee who had supposedly referred her to the job through a social networking website. The former employee confirmed that she had never posed for any calendar company and had no knowledge of the recruiter, reports say. Raffa was unaware that the victim knew of the scheme and continued to send her emails asking for lewd images, reports say. One of the emails purportedly offered the victim $2,500 for a photo shoot.
The victim reported the activity to police, and a detective used the victim’s cellphone to communicate with Raffa directly via text message. On July 25, Raffa, no longer posing as a modeling agent, sent the detective, who was now posing as the victim, a message asking for nude photos. Raffa then sent the detective an image of male genitals, sources say, and allegedly asked the victim for a picture of her genitals.
On Friday, Raffa arranged to meet the victim at an unspecified location for some unspecified sexual activity. He was then arrested. Following the arrest, he reportedly admitted that he was the sole owner of the recruiter’s email address.