They’re everywhere: online video games. Chances are your kids spend a good part of their days playing the games. But do you really know who’s playing in the game with them and what they might do?
"A live image of the man standing there naked and he was doing things to himself," said one man.
The father described what he saw when he walked in during his child’s game on XBOX Connect. Experts told our Team 6 Investigators that there is danger lurking in what your kids just call fun. The games are so mesmerizing, they’re addictive. Security experts say they’re ripe for online predators, adults out to lure your kids into sex.
"I bought something I thought was going to bring joy to my family, and I brought a pedophile into my house," said the father, who did not want to be identified to protect his son.
He purchased an XBOX360 Connect. It and other games like the Sony Playstation 3 have a camera and Internet connection providing the ability for players to see and speak with others in the game. The father says he heard a man’s voice speaking to his son in the other room and came in to see the naked image and the man asking his son to touch himself.
He stated: "At that time I called the police station."
The games are everywhere. The Pew Research Center says 97 percent of teens play them and 27 percent of teens are playing online with people they don’t know.
"Do not invite them to your house because you never know what they might do to you, " said Hialeah resident Reyna Canales.
She worries about her younger brothers and the people they meet in online games, especially after what she says happened to her. She claims an adult lured her into oral sex when she just started high school.
“It started with him sending me pictures, " she said.
Reyna was 15 at the time when she started communicating with an adult, a 19-year- old, on Facebook.
"His penis—his penis and all his parts in the picture," Renya's mother Lesbia Boquin said.
She instantly became alarmed when she saw the photos and eventually got a protective order to keep the man away, but it was too late. Court records indicate the man ..." showed up at petitioner’s dwelling without her mother’s knowledge. .And they perform(ed) oral sex on each other. “
Canales said: “They try to play mind games with you."
Reyna and experts say those out to do harm can use the texting, voice, and video features in games to prey on unsuspecting youngsters. Experts said parents need to learn gamers lingo, things like HMU, which means hit me up or call me.
Alert youngsters are already on the lookout.
Luis Hernandez felt uncomfortable about one player who tried to friend him on Facebook.
"I found it kind of weird suspicious behavior," he said.
The Florida Attorney General’s Josie Ashton warns students across South Florida about the danger.
She says, "Kids that are using video games _ especially talking to online gaming can become an easy target. They are talking to strangers. Someone who may or may not have a criminal background. "
"I can go on there and create a ficticious profile," said Miami-Dade Police David Invernizzi, a specialist in online crimes. "Most of the guys using it for bad purposes that’s how they get into this network. "
Invernizzi knows the schemes predators use.
“I can take it to a private setting where it’s just you speaking and if my profile says I’m 15, you think I’m 15. We can’t talk about anything," he says.
Police say Richard Kretovic in New York lured a 10-year-old boy on XBOX Live and abused him before being arrested. The Empire State has now prevented 2,100 sex offenders from gaining access to online games.
Microsoft is aware of the potential trouble and told NBC 6 it “encourages parents to take an active role in their children’s gaming habits by being aware of who they are playing and chatting with online. XBOX live has robust family settings. “
The FBI’s Heather Armstrong said: "Parents are not aware that for example an iPod has Internet access. "
So, that means kids can get to games on these smart devices when parents are not around. To stay ahead, know exactly how to go into the settings and disconnect the ability to game with others.