Kutcher rescues over 6,000 sex trafficking victims

In 2008, Kutcher started an organization with his ex-wife Demi Moore called Thorn. It’s mission is to eliminate the sex-trafficking and child exploitation over the internet.
Since their debut, the company has identified and rescued over 6,000 trafficking victims and captured 2,000 traffickers.

The Thorn Task Force is comprised of 20 tech companies that dedicate time and resources to searching the darker corners of the internet for potential danger and fraud. These brands include such big names as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo!, Snapchat, and Imgur.

“New innovations will always be adopted for both good and evil purposes,” says Jim Pitkow, Chairman of the Thorn Technical Task Force. “At Thorn, we tip the scales in favor of good by stopping exploitation and protecting our children.”


Backpage CEO charged with pimping minor


The chief executive of Backpage was arrested on Thursday and charged with conspiracy and pimping a minor after the authorities raided the company’s Dallas headquarters, according to court records.

Backpage.com, has faced accusations in various jurisdictions of engaging in sex trafficking, and hundreds of trafficking cases across the country have been linked to the site. But this is the first time that criminal charges have been brought against the company or its executives, the authorities said.

“Defendants have known that their website is the United States hub for the illegal sex trade and that many of the people advertised for commercial sex on Backpage are victims of sex trafficking, including children,” according to an affidavit for a warrant filed by Brian Fichtner, a special agent of the California Department of Justice.

Backpage describes itself as the second-largest online classified advertising service in the country, according to court records.

“They’re like the McDonald’s of trafficking,” an advocate said in an interview on Thursday night. “They made it so easy.”

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said there had been a more than 800 percent increase over the last five years in reports of suspected child sex trafficking, much of it online. Documents filed in the case included interviews with children who said they took out ads on Backpage.com after they were forced into prostitution.

A congressional investigation this year found that the website changed some of its adult classifieds to conceal the fact that the advertisements were for sex acts with minors. The company’s internal reports showed that from January 2013 to March 2015, 99 percent of its income was “directly attributable” to its adult advertising, Kamala D. Harris, the California attorney general, said in a news release. She said more than $51 million of its revenue came from California in that period.

Handling a child’s terrible mistakes online

If you’re a parent, you’ve most likely already dealt with an issue regarding your child online. So many mistakes can be made without even realizing it. Anything from enticement, personal information distribution, to suggestive material can turn into a real nightmare. So what’s a parent to do in these situations?

Step One: Discuss what happened

Don’t yell, but be firm. Your child probably won’t be comfortable or willing to speak on the matter, but whatever occurred has to be discussed in depth. Any situation involving enticement to images in sexual nature, shall be addressed and brought to the attention of the local authorities immediately. Unfortunately, so many parents fail to do this in a timely manner or at all. If your child has become a victim, make a police report immediately.

Step Two: Confiscate their phone

This one will most likely lead to arguing, fighting and hateful words. Kids are strongly attached to their phones, but as a parent, you must know exactly what your child is involved in and stop possible issues from occurring, especially after an incident. After you’ve made a police report, offer the phone as a form of evidence. You are the parent, do what you feel is right and best for the situation.

Step Three: Cooperate with police

When police become involved, it’s never a positive day. Question after question, searching through phones, accounts and possibly even the house make it seem like your privacy is gone. Let the police do their job and refrain from asking them to leave. Once they’re involved, they can’t just stop their investigation. They will be your best ally in the case.

Step Four: Learn from the experience

Once all problems have ended, police have ended their case and are no longer a hot topic, discussions with the family are the best. Discuss what happened, how to prevent it and hope they’ve learned from the hard lesson.

As a parent, you’re completely responsible for all of the activity your child participates in and observes online. There’s nothing wrong with asking your child what they’re doing and periodically going through their device. Furthermore, ensure the applications on their device are safe in nature and do not pose a security risk to anyone. If you spot questionable content, such as older friends not in their age group, don’t hesitate to block them. After all, we’re talking about your child’s safety here.

How safe is Bigo Live for minors?


Severity level: HIGH

A few months ago, CCRA reported on a cell phone video application named Live.me. When our online investigators started observing the program, we were floored at the amount of online enticement incidents we observed. Not only were the number of underage users high in numbers, but so were the predators.

Today, CCRA was made aware of the cell phone video application named Bigo Live, owned and operated by Bigo Technology, located out of Singapore. At first, it looks cute and innocent with the cartoon dinosaur logo, but when we first logged in, what we spotted made Live.me look like a joke along the lines of “dangerous applications”.

When making our first observations of the broadcasters, not only were we shocked at the large number of underage users from around the world, but in seconds, multiple messages to those users from grown adults, were making requests that should never be made to children. Not only were we appalled over the requests, but the fact of how Bigo Live makes available personal information on these minors as well. Anything can be found on their profiles from IP addresses, phone numbers and cities and states. We knew when spotting this that the danger level for minors was absolutely ridiculous.

Our staff made several attempts to contact Bigo Live support, however, their support team gives out no phone number, no email address and only allows you to contact them via their application’s instant message. We’ll be shocked if we even receive back a response.

Due to the danger level of this application, we strongly suggest that parents check their children’s phones and remove this application as soon as possible. The Bigo Technology group appears to show no interest in the safety of their users, particularly towards minors.

Why screen names should be different

Most of us at one point, if not always have created a username or screen name for a website or program we use. Programs like Kik and others require a screen name to use. Most of us tend to get into the habit of using the same screen name over and over again for different programs and sites. Sure, it makes it easy for us to remember and for friends to find us, but could this be an issue?

According to reports and observations from CCRA, it actually and lead to a bad idea. How so? Put simply, it makes your information easy to find. Most sites and programs ask for your full name, city and state and where you work or go to school. While it’s true some do not, if you have the same username on programs that do ask that, it makes it easy for someone to Google your screen name and pull up those profiles where the information is held.

When speaking with the CCRA Executive Director about this situation, he commented, stating, “What we’re seeing is stalking suspects trying to track down their victims online. They can’t find the information on the initial platform, so they search on the web for that username. They find sites that do give out personal information, sometimes even addresses and further their stalking with that information.” He said.

The agency always suggests using different screen names or usernames on different sites for this purpose. Don’t let your same username lead to people discovering your other profiles with detailed information. Think of new usernames instead and limit what you provide in general.

CCRA holds business meeting with Wisconsin law enforcement agency

CCRA held its first meeting with a law enforcement agency last Friday, to establish a possible partnership and joint operation with their cyber investigations task force.

The sheriff’s department in Wisconsin, who’s name is currently being withheld until the partnership is signed into action, is seeking the assistance of CCRA due to their department’s cyber division being limited on manpower, resources and finances. The sheriff of the county was very eager and interested in this opportunity since the current company conducting their investigations is not serving the county in a satisfactory manner.

CCRA will be able to provide the necessary manpower and resources for this department for successful outcomes and prosecutions at a much lower cost. There might also be a possibility of CCRA creating sting operations with the department to assist with the apprehension of internet predators in their county.

More information will be provided later towards the end of the year. If approved, CCRA will start services with the county around January of 2017.

Safe Haven Award for Establishments

The CCRA Safe Haven Award was created in 2016 for businesses who believe they have what it takes to prevent child exploitation and bullying from occurring on their premises. Although it’s physically impossible to stop all forms of harassment and critical issues, the simple attempt to resolve all issues in a timely manner shows that a business tries to protect it’s youthful customers and visitors. Simply reporting those critical issues to law enforcement and security departments for resolution are sufficient enough resolutions.

Our organization is currently accepting applications for our yearly “Safe Haven Award”. After several observations of the activity around your establishment and a meeting with your administration or management, establishments have the opportunity to earn our “Safe Haven Award”, which declares their place of business a “safe area” from child exploitation, bullying and various other related issues.

Click here to apply for the Safe Haven Award