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The FBI Warns Parents Of Sextortion Trend, Online Gaming Predators

PITTSBURGH (KDKA)-- The FBI wants parents to be more careful when letting their children play online video games.

In every corner of modern life, every ethnicity, every economic level, growing up is hard.

TV comedy show star Bill Gardell may live on a higher economic plane than the rest of us, but when it comes to raising a 16-year-old in this high tech age, the issues are the same.

"Sometimes I'll go into his room and he's online and there are four guys online and they're playing the game," said Gardell.

And like any parent, Billy has no way of verifying those playing are who they say they are.

Special Agent Tim Wolford says the FBI is alarmed by the uptick it's seen in sextortion on gaming sites.

Wolford says, "sextortion is any time you have an adult contacting a minor on some kind of social media where they are enticing them to give compromising pictures of themselves."

Just a couple of weeks ago, 32-year-old Scott Joseph Payne pleaded guilty in federal court.

A statement by the U.S. Attorney's office says Payne, "engaged in an Internet conversation with a 12-year-old male using a chatting application known as KIK, during which Payne persuaded the minor victim to produce and share still images and videos of the minoring engaging in sex acts."

Payne's method is a textbook of what the FBI sees in case after case.

Authorities say predators will pretend to be a person of the same age. Then they will befriend and try to win the minor's trust. Sometimes they'll provide incentives like gifts.

The typical targets are kids between the ages of 10 and 17, but in some cases, they've had kids as young as seven years old.

Once a predator receives a picture, they may use it to extort children for more explicit images by threatening to expose their photo if they don't comply.

So what is the best thing mom and dad can do to protect their kids?

Officials say parents should be familiar with the apps and systems that their children play on. Make sure you have access to their accounts and monitor what they're doing.

Avoid using any personal information and photos on their profiles as well.

All of the major gaming platforms have password protections and parental controls-- Wolford says it's critical to set those up.

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