FBI Agents are warning parents to take precautions when buying new technology for their children this Christmas.
“Predators are out there. They like to entice your children. They act as a friend,” said New Orleans Division of the FBI Special Agent Charge.
FBI officials say popular online video games such at Fortnite are now being used by predators to target children.
According to the FBI, predators are using user profiles in online game systems to build a rapport with their victims.
“Often times they’ll start on a gaming system, and then they’ll transition them to an app of various texting that would allow them to facilitate various crimes,” explained Lafayette FBI agent Evan Patterson.
There are things parents and gamers can do to be proactive.
“One of the things we would recommend is participating in the games with your child. Be aware who they’re talking to. There are some systems that will let you limit who you can talk to and who you can contact based on a certain set of friends,” explained Patterson.
The FBI also says there are certain indicators that parents should be aware of if they suspect their child is being manipulated by an online predator
“When your child is trying to hide things from you. If they turn the system off quickly when you walk into the room. If they’re starting to seem withdrawn and they want to spend more time on the game but without you being in the room when they’re doing it. Those are sort of some of the red flags we would look for,” explained Patterson.
According to the avid gamers we spoke with at the local Lafayette video game story “Play N Trade,” It’s imperative that your child release as little personal information about themselves online as possible.
“A lot of predators will go after little girls or little boys. If they see a username like ‘pretty princess’ or ‘my little pony’ ‘fan of Justin Bieber’,” explained Play N Trade Storefront Manager, Kristen Woodall.
Woodall says she suspected a user on an online gaming system of being a predator.
“I was playing Grand Theft Auto 5 online on PlayStation 3 and we had a small group of players in our local server, and there was this one person who kept asking people, especially the kids on the chat, what their name was, how old they were, if they lived near a certain city,” said Woodall.
She was able to get the suspicious user banned by contacting Sony directly.