Cyber Investigators warn parents of uninentionally compromising police investigations

Posted at 5:07 PM, Feb 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-02 19:45:12-05

Cyber investigators are warning Green Country parents of the dangers of "calling out" online predators on social media.

Officials said parents, angered by online predators attempts to contact their children, have the tendency to take to the internet, posting the suspects information in an effort to warn others.

However, investigators said doing so, could do more harm than good.

"Everyone has a phone, and that's the most important thing," Amie Hardy, Principal at Jenks said. "It's like their connection. Their arm. They can't function without it."

As a school principal, Hardy sees it every day, while cyber investigator and co-founder of the Demand project, Jason Weis, sees the other side of it.

"All you need is WiFi and a kid that can set up a profile and then there's plenty of bad guys out there and plenty of kids, and they meet somewhere in the middle," Weis said.

Strangers lurk online, targeting young children.

2 Works for You spoke to a group of young women, who said they weren't aware just how dangerous social media can be.

"I never thought about it until like my principal brought it up to me this  morning," Audi Carrasco, a high school senior said. "And I was just like, 'Yeah maybe you're right, anybody could be watching me.'"

Even those with strict online security settings said strangers still attempt to find them.

"Snapchat tells you the way that they add you so they'll find you from snapcode or from your number," Amy Figueroa, a high school senior said.

Some students said although they know there are predators, they don't think they could become a target.

"I mean me, specifically, I don't think so, but there are people that  I think for sure do it to other people," Hayley Beard, a high school senior said.

But officials said it can happen to anyone, and when parents find out, "You want to jump through the phone and get to that person," Hardy said.

But, unleashing your fury, could compromise police investigations.

"Their papa bear and mama bear instincts pop up and they want to stop this guy and tell this guy to leave their kid alone," Weis said.

Many will take to social media, warning other parents of the predator.

'I highly recommend to not do that," Weis said. "What it's going to do is make him go away."

Releasing that information will give the suspect an opportunity to create a new identity once they know someone is on to them. Investigators said a suspect will then be able to target someone else.

In this case, the best thing to do is take screen shots of the suspect's messages and call the police.

Parents should also be aware of new apps children are using, and make sure online profiles are secure.

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