FBI warns of cyber predators accessing children through virtual learning

The Baltimore office of the FBI warns that complaints about cybercrimes against children are up more than 250% in the city alone, and nationwide, they said the numbers are staggering. “To highlight the amount of complaints that are coming in, we are literally drowning in them,” said Matt Vilcek, supervisory special agent for the Violent Crimes Against Children and Human Trafficking Unit.It’s a dose of reality from FBI agents in Baltimore, who said online predators are taking more advantage than ever of kids during the coronavirus pandemic.”(We cover) all allegations regarding to the production, distribution, receipt and possession of child sexual abuse material. We also cover sex-torsion complaints where kids are extorted out of doing inappropriate things online,” Vilcek said.Vilcek said the FBI has a number of concerns about online learning after platforms like Zoom have been hacked by predators. But he said parents and caregivers can take action, first, by protecting devices and making sure the software is updated.”That sounds really trivial, but those updates are actually security patches that companies issue and also it helps with the performance,” said Tom Breeden, supervisory special agent of cybercrime.If your kids have email, make sure they only click on trusted links.”Clicking on that can take you somewhere that could lead to a malicious place,” Breeden said.Children can go to the FBI’s website to learn about safe online surfing through interactive games by grade level. Agents said communication is key when it comes to appropriate online behavior and knowing what gaming sites and apps your kids are using.”We need to train them and we need to make sure that they know what the dangers are,” Vilcek said.

The Baltimore office of the FBI warns that complaints about cybercrimes against children are up more than 250% in the city alone, and nationwide, they said the numbers are staggering.

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“To highlight the amount of complaints that are coming in, we are literally drowning in them,” said Matt Vilcek, supervisory special agent for the Violent Crimes Against Children and Human Trafficking Unit.

It’s a dose of reality from FBI agents in Baltimore, who said online predators are taking more advantage than ever of kids during the coronavirus pandemic.

“(We cover) all allegations regarding to the production, distribution, receipt and possession of child sexual abuse material. We also cover sex-torsion complaints where kids are extorted out of doing inappropriate things online,” Vilcek said.

Vilcek said the FBI has a number of concerns about online learning after platforms like Zoom have been hacked by predators. But he said parents and caregivers can take action, first, by protecting devices and making sure the software is updated.

“That sounds really trivial, but those updates are actually security patches that companies issue and also it helps with the performance,” said Tom Breeden, supervisory special agent of cybercrime.

If your kids have email, make sure they only click on trusted links.

“Clicking on that can take you somewhere that could lead to a malicious place,” Breeden said.

Children can go to the FBI’s website to learn about safe online surfing through interactive games by grade level. Agents said communication is key when it comes to appropriate online behavior and knowing what gaming sites and apps your kids are using.

“We need to train them and we need to make sure that they know what the dangers are,” Vilcek said.