Police warn of online predators targeting children for inappropriate photos, money

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – The Calera Police Department is warning you of the increasing number of cases of “exploitation” by teens. The department said several parents have brought forward that their children are victims of child pornography and exploited for money.

The latest report Police Chief David Hyche got from Calera was last week. Concerned parents came to him saying their young children were attacked online for explicit photos and then threatened for money. Hyche said you have to be alert to catch these kinds of predators.

“I’ve noticed this a number of times,” Hyche said. “They think it is a young female. The person asking for the child sends pictures and says, “Okay, I sent you pictures, now you send me some.” Once you do that, you are really not talking to a 14-year-old girl, but to a 40-year-old man.”

Hyche said that person is mainly after your money.

“In most cases, the criminal wants your money,” Hyche said. “The chance that they will share the photo is small. If you do pay them, it won’t stop. All they want is money, and if the criminals share the photos, they’re committing child pornography, which is a federal crime.”

He said there is no way to say how many children this has happened to because many children do not want to tell their parents.

“Most kids never come out with this. The way parents I’ve talked to have found out is they come across it by accident or look at the child’s phone,” Hyche said. “There’s no telling what psychological effect it will have on the kids.”

He said kids are solicited on social media and gaming apps, so it’s important to monitor their activity.

“I think it’s a huge problem and I want to encourage parents to talk to your kids about it,” Hyche said.

Hyche said this doesn’t just happen to children, he’s seen a case for adults. But, he said now, it is mainly boys aged 12 to 14 who are targeted.

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