FBI warns of online gaming
Federal officials have released a new public service announcement titled, “It’s not a game” warning about an increase in danger for preditors to target children from online games.
The FBI said in late summer of 2020 FBI New York Intelligence Analyst Chris Travis noticed a trend in data showing that sexual predators were using online video game platforms to target children.
“As an analyst, one of my jobs is to take case information, match it to other cases to look for trends and commonalities, and to see if different suspects are using similar methods,” said Travis. “I remember when I noticed the patterns, and it hit home. My young son loves to play online games, and he was potentially being exposed to the behavior I was seeing in these cases.”
The FBI said many times predators foster a relationship with children through these games that they then use to draw children away to other sites where the conversations change.
Special Agent Pao Fisher interviewed a number of suspects picked up in cases and said this process can be quick.
“They explained to me how they start up conversations and get to know the victims, usually by posing as a child of similar age,” Fisher said.
“After a shockingly short period of time, they enticed their victims to take the chat to one of the popular social media apps. Most of the popular gaming sites don’t allow for the exchange of photos or videos.
“Once on the social media app, the suspect would pressure the child to send photos, getting more aggressive and demanding more compromising images. Ultimately, this led to the predator threatening to expose the victim’s photos to their parents or posting them online.”
More information about this, as well as the FBI’s suggestions for parents, can be found on their website.
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