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Experts say online predators becoming more aggressive

Posted at 5:58 PM, Apr 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-27 19:58:02-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force experts say online predators are becoming more frequent and more aggressive in their interactions with underage children.

“The trend is changing, they’re being more aggressive, as you know we’ve had three in the past month where they’ve actually taken them out of their homes,” said Michelle Busch-Upwall, Education Specialist with ICAC.

The latest case is out of Spanish Fork.

After talking online for two months, police say a 17-year-old met a 12-year-old in real life, picking the girl up at 4 a.m. and allegedly kidnapping and sexually assaulting her.

“You’ve gotta monitor your kids, talk to them about predators,” said Busch-Upwall.

One in five kids is sexually solicited online, according to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

And with more apps, comes more access to kids.

Read - Salt Lake City FBI reports 'overwhelming' number of 'sextortion' cases involving young boys

There’s not one specific platform predators use. Busch-Upwall says they get cyber tips involving TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and even Pinterest.

“They’re using everything, so access is pretty easy to our kids, we gotta be aware of that, parents need to know how all these things work, if their kids are on an app, I always encourage them to download that app and see how it works,” said Busch-Upwall.

Michelle says its not just young girls that are victims, she says specifically with the rise of sextortion cases, more and more young boys are coming forward.

“I always tell parents, make sure you are talking to your kids… not threatening, not saying I’m going to take everything away, because that will backfire, if and when something does happen, they don’t feel comfortable coming to their parents,” said Busch-Upwall.

Spanish Fork Police are continuing their investigation into Monday’s alleged kidnapping and assault.

The 17-year-old boy was booked into a youth detention center on charges of child kidnapping, vehicle theft, obstruction of justice, false personal information, no driver license, and no insurance.

FOX 13 News confirmed the teen suspect is well known to law enforcement.