Sterling Heights man pretends to be girl on Instagram to trick teen boys into sending sexually explicit photos

A Sterling Heights man who pretended to be a girl to get sexually explicit photos from boys got a 20-year prison sentence this week.

Authorities said Thomas Neil, 42, admitted that he posed as a teen girl on Instagram to trick a 13-year-old boy into sending him photos in July 2020.

During the investigation, authorities discovered that he used this same method to target around 16 boys. These crimes dated back to as early as 2010. According to the Department of Justice, "Neil often had the minors engage in behavior that would be humiliating or painful."

Neil qualified for federal sentencing as a repeat and dangerous sex offender for those actions.

"Our communities are safer with predators like Neil off our streets, where he can no longer victimize innocent children," said HSI Detroit Special Agent in Charge Angie M. Salazar. "Our agents and partners will continue to do the work necessary to ensure predators are brought to justice and victims receive the care and assistance they need."