Parents have a new concern about how sexual predators can target their children. No longer just hiding in the aisles of account stores behind popular social media, police say popular gaming apps, including Fornite have become fertile grounds for adult predators luring juveniles. Multiple arrests have taken place in recent weeks.
Consider recent police reports in Canada, where authorities claim teens are targeted by sexual predators through the popular Fortnite Thu. Montreal area police warn parents that predators are using a “sextortion” scheme against minors, asking in return for personal photos. In the past four weeks alone, police said four cases had been reported in the Montreal area.
Police said the program works like this, according to at the CBC, quoting Sgt. Jean-Luc Tremblay with Richelieu Saint-Laurent Police: The predator (s) attempt to infiltrate groups of friends playing the popular online game Fortnite by offering them a chance to advance their game in exchange for revealing photos. The photos are then sent via the Instagram social media platform.
In Montreal, the predator then “threatened to share the footage publicly unless the teenager sent even more intimate material,” CBC reported.
Fortnite is the most popular online game of the year, with nearly 200 million players since its launch in 2017. Available worldwide on multiple different platforms, Fornite is especially popular with pre-teens and teens drawn to the first-person shooter, the ability to compete with players from around the world, and the dance moves that are part of the action. The game takes place on today’s Earth, with most of humanity gone. Players try to collect materials to build protective fortifications.
Canadian cases of sexual predators using Fornite Trying to get revealing photos of teenagers is similar to several cases in New Jersey in September, when authorities arrested two dozen suspected predators for using games like Fornite and Minecraft to reach underage victims.
“It is a frightening reality that sexual predators are lurking on social media, ready to strike if they find a vulnerable child,” the New York attorney general said. Gurbir Grewal said, describing how the 24 suspects attempted to attract and obtain sex with teenagers.
Grewal said parents should have an open dialogue with their children on social media, chat apps and games if attendees behave abnormally.
“If the kids seem worried about being evasive when the topic is brought up, it can be a red flag,” Grewal said, according to NJ.com. “It’s critical that parents talk to their kids about social media and chat apps to let them know that the people they meet may not be who they initially appeared to be.”
In Canada, Montreal authorities are now working with schools in the education effort, according to the CBC.
“(The police) contacted us to ask us to send a press release to inform parents and help them,” said Lynne Arcand, administrator at the Commission scolaire des Patriotes, a French-language school board representing more than 30,000 students. from the South Shore of Montreal.
Arcand said the school board regularly works on social media safety awareness.