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Police: Sexual predators using popular apps to lure children

Our children may be tech savvy, but are you? Spokane Police said sexual predators are taking advantage of popular apps to lure our children.

Mobile apps like Whisper, Chat Roulette, Tinder, and Hot or Not are accessible to anyone with a mobile device. Many are already familiar with some of these apps, many are household names - like Fortnite, Musical.ly, and Tumblr. Unfortunately, while these games are created for fun for kids, sex predators are using them to their advantage to contact children.

Now, Spokane Police is warning the devices designed to make our lives easier, can mobile devices and the apps we use can also put our families at risk.

"They could have dangerous results for their kids if strangers are trying to reach out and contact them," said Capt. Brad Arleth, Spokane Police Department

Spokane Police is continuing to encourage parents about educating not only their children, but themselves about internet safety. This comes after a local investigation led to three people being arrested for allegedly luring a young girl into the sex trade

"Kids are very tech savvy and astute with what goes on on the internet," said Capt. Arleth.

Which is why police said it's important for parents to also be knowledgeable about what's on their child's phone.

Most people are familiar with apps like Tinder and Grindr. They're dating apps anyone can download straight to their mobile device. 

But, most seemingly kid-friendly apps - like Fortnite and Minecraft - also provide similar features, like messaging.

"Which have anonymous users that could be all over the country, but they could also be right here in Spokane," said Capt. Arleth. 

Investigators said the suspects in this week's investigation were all targeting young girls online. An online sting in New Jersey last month busted 24 men, using seemingly harmless apps to lure children.

Police are hoping these cases acts as a reminder for parents to be aware of who their kids talk to - whether it's through a computer, or a mobile device. 

"Having and maintaining a good relationship with their child, talking to them," said Capt. Arleth. 

Here is a list of apps police said, parents should pay special attention to:

  • Kik
  • Tumblr
  • Fortnite
  • Minecraft
  • Discord
  • Wishbone
  • Whisper
  • Skout
  • Chat Avenue
  • Chat Roulette
  • Live.ly
  • Musical.ly
  • Down
  • Paltalk
  • Yubo
  • Hot or Not
  • Omegle
  • Tinder
  • Grindr

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