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Fox on Tech: Predators using online games, FBI warns

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Officials warn of predators are focused on popular online games

The authorities in New Jersey, the arrest of two dozen men after they allegedly used ‘Fortnite,’ the world’s most popular video game, to ask for the sex from undercover officers posing as minors.

Online multiplayer video games such as “Fortnite” and “Minecraft” to explode in popularity, and each contains a social media component where players will be encouraged to interact with each other. But now the FBI warns of a new threat: dangerous sexual predators with the help of these games to target minor girls and boys to play online.

The warning follows a sting operation in New Jersey that resulted in two dozen arrests earlier this week. In “operation Open House” saw law enforcement agents that as underage players to snare online predators soliciting children for sex via the “Fortnite,” believed to be one of the world’s most played video game at this time. FBI Special Agent Kevin Kauffman is now warning parents to be more involved in their kids’ game-playing world, sooner rather than later. “This is a tool that the predators used to go out and get after your children,” Kauffman said, adding, “I would say that a large percentage of them are not who they say they are.”

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But stopping these predators will not be easy. The most popular games are equipped with chat features, or other apps designed to give players the ability to talk to each other online. Direct contact between the players is encouraged, but with little or no monitoring systems, or online policing in these games, there is a significant potential for abuse. “As long as it is connected to the internet, there is a chance that predators can use to connect with your children,” Kauffman said.

The FBI plans for the follow-up of the Operation “Open House” with more sting operations, but they are also recommending parents supervise their children closely at the use of the social media aspects of online games. If necessary, most of the chat features are equipped with a “mute” option that can be used by parents. Another way to protect your children – the creation of a “shadow” account to monitor while they are playing, and make sure that they do not give any personal information to strangers. But ultimately, most experts say that the best way to keep your kids safe is to talk to them, and explain that people they meet online are not always who they seem to be.

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