Police chief warns of online predators

Bellefontaine Police Chief Brandon Standley is urging parents and children to be on the lookout for online predators and has taken his message to the department’s Facebook page.

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“Parents, we have seen an increase in the amount of instances where a sexual deviant is attempting to lure your child through social media to take inappropriate photos of themselves and send them back to the online predator,” the chief writes. “In some instances in neighboring counties, we have learned that they will then attempt to trap your son/daughter into paying them for not sharing the photos after they have received them.”

The predators start on online conversation with the victims and convince them to send sexually explicit photos of themselves to the predator.

“After the predator receives the photos of your son/daughter, they will then exploit these photos if your son/daughter does not comply with sending them money,” by a set timeline and then post the photos online, Standley reports.

“Once the pics are online, it’s very hard to track where the photos end up,” he warns.

In a message to potential victims, Standley said, “Please tell your parents/guardians immediately if someone ever asks you to send them an inappropriate pic of yourself.

“Don’t be scared of reporting this information to a trusted adult. We need your help in protecting other kids too. Think of this ... if this happened to you, it’s probably happened to some of your friends or your brother or sister.”

The chief also is encouraging parents to talk with their children.

“Remind your son or daughter that they are not alone and that they should not be embarrassed to share this information with you,” he said. “Lastly, please ask your son/daughter today if they have ever been asked to do this. You may find that they have and were too scared or embarrassed to speak up.

“Please be patient and understanding with them, and report this to your local law enforcement agency immediately if you find evidence this happened.”

The police department phone is (937) 599-1010 and the Logan County Sheriff’s Office is (937) 592-5731.