Investigators warning parents about "Sextortion" - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Investigators warning parents about "Sextortion"

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GREENVILLE, N.C. -

255 Child predators arrested. 61 victims.

It was all part of a 5-week nationwide operation by the Department of Homeland Security and Internet Crime Task Forces.

There's a disturbing online trend threatening your young children. It's called "Sextortion."

Federal agents say child predators are increasingly convincing kids to send and share sexually explicit photos online.

Greenville police detective, Glen Webb, says it's happening right here, too.

"We has a case with an 11-year-old girl that was sending sexually explicit photos of herself to a man we found out later was in India, but on first indication he was in Tennessee. The phone number she was using to text had a TN area code it was an Internet based number," Webb said.

New phenomenon's like "Snap Chat" are making it even easier. The free app lets you send pictures back and forth, but they disappear within seconds. Webb says it's giving children a false sense of security.

"Anything you send can be copied and saved even with that time limit up there," he said.

That's why Greenville Mayor, Allen Thomas, jump started a program called "Zabra."

"They know more about technology than we do. So we as parents have to catch up and be a voice of reason for our kids, not just for threats, but think about their opportunities for jobs, getting into universities later and people looking at their digital footprint," Thomas said.

The program will send you an alert any time your child views, sends or receives inappropriate content online or on their phones, whether it be from sexual predators or bullies.

"There are people out actually actively seeking your child and that's why you have to be diligent and you have to cross those privacy lines for their safety. It's not about finding out everything they're doing. It's finding out what the other 7 billion people that are on the online world are doing," said Webb.

For more information about "Zabra" click here:  http://www.myzabra.com/register/

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