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

Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 9:50 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Calera Police are warning you of teenage “sexploitation” cases on the rise. The department said multiple parents have come forward about their children being victims of child pornography and exploited for money.

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

“This has come up to me a number of times,” Hyche said. “They think it is a young female. The person soliciting the child will send photographs and say ‘OK, I sent you photographs, now you send me some.’ Once you do that, it’s really not a 14-year-old girl you’re talking to, it is a 40-year-old man.”

Hyche said that person is mainly after your money.

“In most cases, what the criminal wants is your money,” Hyche said. “The odds that they are going to share the photo are slim. If you do pay them, it is not going to stop. All they want is money, and if the criminals do share the photos, then they are committing child pornography, which is a federal felony.”

He said there is no way to tell how many children this has happened to, because many children won’t tell their parents.

“Most kids are never going to come forward with this. The way parents I’ve spoken to have discovered it is they inadvertently stumble across it or look at the child’s phone,” Hyche said. “No telling the psychological effect it has on the kids.”

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

“I think it is an enormous problem and I want to encourage parents to talk to your kids about it,” Hyche said.

Hyche said this isn’t just happening to kids, he has seen an adult case. But, he said right now, it is mainly 12 to 14-year-old boys being targeted.

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