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Predators targeting kids using free apps

3:09 PM, May 28, 2013   |    comments
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By Anne Allred

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - It is the number one problem for the Missouri Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Free cell phones apps that kids are using to text one another have become a hotbed for sexual predators. The problem makes up for 50 percent of the task force's case load.

The apps, Meet24, Kik, Meetz4U, Snapchat, Moco, Meet me, and Topface have caught detectives attention.

"We're finding teenagers these days are moving away from Facebook and other websites and moving to these social apps which allows them to communicate in a quicker fashion. They want that instant gratification," said task force leader, Lt. Chris Meteja.

Sexual predators usually start up a conversation and then ask for nude pictures or to meet the child. Detectives say they also pose as members of the opposite sex and create profiles saying they are minors as well.

Many of these apps are based out of the country. Some of them have a warning when you sign up saying the app contains age restricted material and you have to tape to confirm you are over 17. Other than that, the app does not verify age or content.

NewsChannel 5's Anne Allred was with detectives as they logged onto the Meet24 app posing as a 13 year old O'Fallon girl.

You can see what they found in the video posted above.

For more information on the Missouri ICAC unit, visit their website.


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