Do vigilante groups truly help against online predators?

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We’ve all heard at some point, either on the news or online, that a group of individuals have assisted or have “busted a predator” themselves. Sounds like a great way to put an end to online pedophilia, right? Well, there are negative consequences that many are unaware of.

The phrase, “don’t bite off more than you can chew” fits right into this particular scenario. Law enforcement around the country are always dealing with reports of online pedophilia. If you’ve read articles on certain online groups, you’ve probably seen the many vigilante groups and members who are getting themselves into hot water. So what exactly does “hot water” mean?

CCRA has spoken to members of many vigilante groups, who’ve admitted in some point in their online decoy operations, they’ve had negative encounters with law enforcement and civil attorneys. When asked what this entailed, they explained that attorneys have contacted them, bringing suit against them for false accusations, defamation of character, and many other areas. Law enforcement has also asked them to stop meeting predators who they meet online, in person, regardless of state or country.

When CCRA asked law enforcement about this, they made it perfectly clear that that civilians who are not contracted, affiliated, or partnered with law enforcement agencies, should not be attempting to apprehend online predators. This includes chatting with predators online, collecting their personal information for personal gain, meeting in person and recording those in person encounters.

What’s the big deal? According to our meetings with law enforcement, individuals who are not one of the following above, who do not have the authority or power to attempt to stop predators as individuals or groups, are either at risk of impersonating law enforcement, destroying an on-going investigation, and setting themselves up for civil suit, since the predator the groups are dealing with, have not been convicted in a court of law. Believe it or not, these civil suits can and will be a win for the suspected predator.

With the largely growing number of predators, how in the world is the online community supposed to support and protect their community, both physically and online? Law enforcement stated that online observations and reports to law enforcement are sufficient enough and do not pose a threat to themselves, or law enforcement investigations.

How does CCRA avoid these mentioned issues? CCRA does not perform decoy operations or interact the predator or victim. Our operations are solely visual and will remain that way, unless otherwise instructed by a law enforcement agency. If a law enforcement agency instructs you to do such tasks, you are then brought under their protection, which should be documented on a form, which both parties can sign.

Although it’s know that the laws have not yet caught up to the internet, all civilians should steer clear of attempting to apprehend, meet with, and communicate with predators as a decoy, as many call themselves.

Facebook alert: Video Sent in Message

Cyber Crime Response Agency would like to advise and warn all Facebook users that a current hacking attempt is ongoing. The hacking attempt will appear in the form of a video, sent to you on messenger. The video will appear with your profile picture and your name. Do not click on this, as it will cause your account to be disabled. According to Facebook Help Page, there is no suggested fix for this at the moment.

Lee County man arrested in online predator sting

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A Golden Gate man was arrested Wednesday after he asked an undercover detective who posed as a 12-year-old girl on social media for nude pictures and tried to meet the fictitious girl “with the goal to engage in sexual activity,” according to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

William Gregory Vega, 26, faces three felony charges of obscene communication — using a computer to seduce/solicit/lure a child, traveling to meet a minor to engage in sexual activity, and lewd and lascivious exhibition using a computer — and one felony charge of public order crimes for using a two-way communication device to facilitate a felony. Vega was booked at the Lee County Jail on $45,000 bond.

Wednesday while investigating possible narcotics leads, an undercover detective using an “investigative Facebook account” received a Facebook message from a user named “Greg Vega,” according to a sheriff’s office arrest report.

The detective responded to Vega and told him that his name was “Shelly” and that “Shelly” was using her older sister’s Facebook account. When Vega asked for Shelly’s age, the detective said she will turn 13 in October, the report stated. Over the course of the lengthy online conversation, the two exchanged phone numbers, and Vega soon thereafter sent the detective a text message.

The text message conversation “quickly turned into one of a sexual nature,” deputies wrote, after Vega asked about nude pictures and inquired about Shelly’s dating habits.

When “Shelly” told Vega that her mother did not allow her to send pictures, Vega replied with “You gotta be more sneaky” and “She wrong you should be able to take pics,” the report stated. Eventually, Vega asked “Shelly” if she wanted to have sex and sent her a sexually explicit video of himself, according to the report.

Vega later asked “Shelly” if she wanted to “meet up,” and the two agreed to meet near the stage area of Riverside Park in Bonita Springs. Deputies then staked out the park and set up surveillance in and around it.

Deputies followed Vega as he made his way to the park, where he then sat down on a picnic table near the stage area, according to the report.

He “appeared to make eye contact” with the detective who was sitting on the stage, portraying 12-year-old “Shelly,” the report stated. Vega then began walking toward the detective, “making his intentions of contact clear and obvious,” and was arrested, according to the report.

Source: http://www.naplesnews.com/

Employment Scam Targets College Students

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In a public service message from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, released the 18th of January, the FBI spoke of an employment scam, targeting college students for the ending result of identity theft. Their public service announcement said as follows:

College students across the United States continue to be targeted in a common employment scam. Scammers advertise phony job opportunities on college employment websites, and/or students receive e-mails on their school accounts recruiting them for fictitious positions. This “employment” results in a financial loss for participating students.

How the scam works:

-Scammers post online job advertisements soliciting college students for administrative positions.
-The student employee receives counterfeit checks in the mail or via e-mail and is instructed to deposit the checks into their personal checking account.
-The scammer then directs the student to withdraw the funds from their checking account and send a portion, via wire transfer, to another individual. Often, the transfer of funds is to a “vendor”, purportedly for equipment, materials, or software necessary for the job.
-Subsequently, the checks are confirmed to be fraudulent by the bank.
The following are some examples of the employment scam e-mails:

“You will need some materials/software and also a time tracker to commence your training and orientation and also you need the software to get started with work. The funds for the software will be provided for you by the company via check. Make sure you use them as instructed for the software and I will refer you to the vendor you are to purchase them from, okay.”

“I have forwarded your start-up progress report to the HR Dept. and they will be facilitating your start-up funds with which you will be getting your working equipment from vendors and getting started with training.”

“Enclosed is your first check. Please cash the check, take $300 out as your pay, and send the rest to the vendor for supplies.”

Consequences of participating in this scam:

-The student’s bank account may be closed due to fraudulent activity and a report could be filed by the bank with a credit bureau or law enforcement agency.
-The student is responsible for reimbursing the bank the amount of the counterfeit checks.
-The scamming incident could adversely affect the student’s credit record.
-The scammers often obtain personal information from the student while posing as their employer, leaving them vulnerable to identity theft.
-Scammers seeking to acquire funds through fraudulent methods could potentially utilize the money to fund illicit criminal or terrorist activity.

Tips on how to protect yourself from this scam:

-Never accept a job that requires depositing checks into your account or wiring portions to other individuals or accounts.
-Many of the scammers who send these messages are not native English speakers. Look for poor use of the English language in e-mails such as incorrect grammar, capitalization, and tenses.
-Forward suspicious e-mails to the college’s IT personnel and report to the FBI. Tell your friends to be on the lookout for the scam.
-If you have been a victim of this scam or any other Internet-related scam, you may file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at http://www.IC3.gov and notify your campus police.

Secret text codes that teens are using

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Keeping children safe while they are using their gadgets is very important to parents and grandparents alike. There are numerous inappropriate apps and websites out there that you wouldn’t want a child to be using.

We also need to worry about cyberbullying, online predators, sexting, and even the risk of internet addiction. One way to know what your teenager is up to is to take a look at what they are texting to others. However, monitoring those text messages won’t always tell the entire story.

What we’re talking about is the fact that there is a handful of secret texting codes that you might not know about. They could be referring to bullying, drugs, sex or even suicide and you might not recognize it.

If you are worried about this being an issue for someone you care about, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with today’s lingo. On the next page, we posted a list of secret texting codes. Just as a warning, it does contain graphic language.

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http://www.komando.com/

 

Microsoft Tech Support Scams

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Cyber Crime Response Agency received a Microsoft Tech Support scam report today, reporting that a man, who went by the name of John Bradshaw, contacted them, unsolicited, stating that her computer was actively being hacked and that access was needed to stop the ongoing threat. Luckily, the reportee was informed enough to deny access and report the caller to our agency, which resulted in us reporting it to the Federal Trade Commission.

Information about call:

  • Suspect Name: John Bradshaw
  • Telephone Number: 805-618-2413

We recommend reporting all related calls to the Federal Trade Commission, by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP. Do not allow access to any individuals who claim to be from Microsoft. At the present time, Microsoft does not have the capability of monitoring all Microsoft devices for computer intrusion.

Online predators push Irish children to share compromising pictures within 4 to 5 questions

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Detective Superintendent Declan Daly heads up the recently formed Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB) and in an exclusive interview with Independent.ie he revealed how his officers have witnessed an increase in children being targeted for naked pictures online.

D-Supt Daly called on parents not to be naive and to educate both themselves and their children about the dangers online.

“The internet has many fantastic uses but one of the downsides is that at any given time there are perpetrators who are looking to target our children sexually and exploit our children.

He continued: “A child who’s innocently online may be unaware that they are being targeted by an online predator.”

The GNPSB was set up in 2015. Previously it operated at the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Investigation Unit (DVSAIU) in the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI).

However garda chiefs felt it was important to create an independent unit that dealt specifically with crimes of a sexual nature.

The sensitive nature of the work carried out by the skilled detectives means that many details of the crimes they work on cannot be published.

However D-Supt Daly explained that he wants to make parents and children aware of the serious dangers that exist. The unit is in constant contact with policing bodies across the globe including the FBI in the US, Interpol and Europol. Police and agents alert gardaí to the presence of particular predators and photographs online. The GNPSB then process the information and disseminate it to districts across the country where local garda units deal with perpetrators and victims.

D-Supt Daly explained that they have seen a “worrying increase” in self-taken child images ending up in the hands of predators.

“This is where a child takes an image of themselves, either partially clothed or fully unclothed and posts that image online,”he explained.

“The child then either knowingly or unknowingly maybe gives that image to somebody. Maybe emails that image to another child, or what they believe is another child, but ultimately that image makes its way onto the internet by a number of means. Obviously you have the difficulties there.”

Asked how children fall for this plot D-Supt Daly explained that criminals often operate a form of ‘catfishing’ where they pretend to be someone they are not.
“At any one time there are perpetrators pretending to be young children and then trying to build up credibility with a child.

“For example, an adult male posing as a teenage girl to try and get pictures of young boys. The boy believes that he’s interacting with a young girl and innocently sends the image, believing that he is sending it to a young girl. He may or may not find out that it is an adult that he is interacting with.”

Although he could not provide specific numbers for the amount of these cases that have happened D-Supt Daly explained that at any one time his unit would be carrying out several investigations.

He explained that conversations between predators and victims develop worryingly fast.

“What we find is that when we look at the interacting that would happen between a suspect and a victim. It progresses into a request for images, or to meet, very quickly.”

Asked how quickly, the garda chief responded: “Within four or five questions. Obviously I can’t put a figure on every case but what we have seen is a suspect will be online and he will be eager to find out somebody who is amenable to his advances or his interaction.
“They seem to get down to the point very quickly. They ask name, age, sex, location and then it’s into that sexualised chat very quickly.”

Gardaí use a number of tools to follow the footprint that leads to the criminals but D-Supt Daly said parents need to take control of the situation before it gets to that point.

He urged mothers and fathers to educate themselves and to adapt real-world thinking to the online sphere.

“If a parent is in the house and they looked out the window and they saw their child speaking with a stranger, they would react immediately because they would be horrified to think: ‘Who is my child talking to? What is my child talking to this person about? What danger does this person pose?’ So when the child comes in we would ask our child a number of questions about this interaction.

“However on the internet we give our children access. And how many strangers do our children speak to without any critique or questions posed?”

He added that communication between parent and child is crucial so that the child is not “overly criticised” for communicating with a stranger.

]“What you don’t want is a situation where a child is simply not going to interact with the parent and not going to come forward and tell their story,” he said.

“If a child is a victim of sexplay, for example, you want that communication piece that the child is confident and able to go to parents and say ‘somebody is trying to target me online and I’m worried about it’. You don’t want the child holding that in, you want them to tell you.”