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'Beautiful liars': Online scammers finding new ways to target teens

Posted at 2:18 PM, Mar 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-20 15:18:16-04

BRAZOS COUNTY, Texas — Today, social media is used to connect people through mutual interests.

However, this connection can also be used by criminals seeking to prey on young minds.

In 2011, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported an all-time high in online luring and exploitation reports.

The Gose family experienced it firsthand.

”Posing as an attractive female, they told him some things and tricked him into thinking some things," said Suzanne Gose, the victim's mother.

"They screenshotted some stuff and used photo-shop to change screenshots and threatened him,"

"He was scared to death,”

During the pandemic, this stealthy use of technology has exploded.

”It’s a wonderful way to be able to reach out, be connected and learn," said Chuck Fleeger, Amber Alert Network of the Brazos Valley Director.

"Unfortunately, there are those who would use that medium as a means to try and target vulnerable populations such as children,”

From Instagram to TikTok, this threat is not unknown on popular social media apps either.

“Understand that once something is out there, there’s no getting it back, there’s no undo button,” said Fleeger.

The Amber Alert Network of the Brazos Valley is partnering with NCMEC to provide kids and parents with an online safety curriculum.

“It always boils down to communication," said Fleeger.

"The communication with those children with those young adults in age-appropriate manners,”

The hope is to help prevent young individuals from being taken advantage of.

“Now our rule in our family is nobody gets Instagram accounts until 18," said Gose.

"The good news about this is that everybody in the family understands,”

The Netsmartz workshop can provide its curriculum to schools or any local organizations upon request.