Taking action to keep your kids safe from sexual predators online

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HUNTSVILLE, AL- WHNT News 19 has been covering the story about 31-year-old Lucas Michael Chansler, who allegedly victimized nearly 350 people through a sextortion scheme.

In light of the sextortion scheme, WHNT News 19 is taking action to keep your kids safe online.

The internet gives us instant access to news, social media, we can pay our bills instantaneously... but it also gives online predators the chance to communicate with your children instantly.

"You may be sitting in Huntsville, Alabama on your computer, but you could be talking to someone in China or Australia, its very easy to do," said Huntsville Police Department Lieutenant Darryl Lawson.

That's why investigators say online predators are so vicious. They can victimize people thousands of miles away all while concealing their real identities.

"They'll always pretend to be someone that's younger, close in age to the person they're trying to befriend," said Lieutenant Lawson.

Lawson says predators especially lurk in the online gaming world.

"Sexual predators -- they're also into gaming because that's what the kids want to do," said Lawson.

By forging a shared interest, Lieutenant Lawson says the online predators build a relationship and trust.

"There's an exchange of information, they may get a phone number or email address or Facebook page," said Lawson.

That's when the predators become aggressive, asking for sexual videos and content and threatening the kids if they don't provide it or provide enough.

"Kids are very up on social media, the apps," said Lawson.

With evolving technology, Lieutenant Lawson says predators are increasingly internet savvy and parents need to be the same. He encourages parental controls and open conversations with your kids about the dangers of internet strangers.

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