FBI warns children are at risk of being exposed to predators on certain apps

FBI warns children are at risk of being exposed to predators on certain apps

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The constantly changing world of apps are allowing some predators to elude law enforcement and come up with questionable ways to find kids.

There are now 15 apps the FBI is warning parents about. One of them, LiveMe.

Hawaii News Now created an account on LiveMe using a fake email address. Within seconds, we were able to find the section titled, ‘girls’ and found several who look to be in their young to mid teens.

We joined the conversation with one who had 9,000 people watching her.

“Oh my god, Christian, thank you for the diamond ring," she squeals, "And Babe, thanks for the kiss.”

The diamond ring and kiss are not just emojis or forms of praise. The icons on these apps actually have value and can be used to get gift cards or even convert to cash.

The girl repeatedly asks for more from her viewers.

“If you send a Lamborghini black, I’ll give you my number guys and if you send two cruise ships, I’ll give you my snap,” she says, referring to another app, Snapchat.

While the live stream is going on, we are recording it and the FBI says that’s often how the teens get into trouble.

“People can record those and you don’t have any knowledge that you’re being recorded,” says FBI Agent Jason White of the Honolulu office, “An image of them ‘flashing’ escalates... once the adult has this image or these videos, this sexual material in their possession, they then threaten the child."

White says it’s a problem labelled, sextortion.

"If they don’t produce more of this material, they’re going to release that to different social media platforms or classmates.”

Nationwide, girls or boys as young as 7 years old have been victims.

In some cases, White says kids become so afraid of being exposed, they send new images sometimes daily, sometimes for years.

“We’ve seen children, just to get out of producing more videos or images, they’ve actually attempted suicide. We’ve had some actually commit suicide.”

Parents already know that the computer should be in an open part of the home and that they should check their child’s ‘history’ on devices, but White says the changing atmosphere online means new precautions.

White says if you see a light on in their room during the overnight hours, listen to hear if they’re talking to a device, possibly a web cam.

Don’t let devices charge overnight in an open area with easy access, White suggests parents keep the devices in their room so kids will have a harder time getting to them.

Most importantly, White says there needs to be communication. “Talk to them about the dangers,” White says predators will pretend to be their age online.

The list of apps law enforcement is warning about constantly changes and grows. Here the 15 parents should know about right now.

Law enforcement wants parents to watch out for these 15 apps
Law enforcement wants parents to watch out for these 15 apps (Source: FBI)

Be especially careful of vault and secret apps. Vault apps hide images and videos. Secret apps, like the ‘calculator’ mask the true identity of the app.

The green percent sign is a flag on this one but others aren’t so easily recognizeable.

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