Recently I attended an American Teens in Crisis seminar hosted by a local organization I support (PATH-A Positive Approach to Teen Health), where many speakers reported on the various problems and dangers currently confronting our youth. In this post, I want to tell you about a case an FBI agent shared at that meeting.
The family in this case had two daughters who shared a bedroom. They had a computer in their room with a webcam and began exchanging messages with a man they met online. He asked them to send him a pic of each of them, but they refused, explaining that their parents wouldn’t approve. He seemed to accept their reason and asked if he could send them a pic of him instead. They didn’t see any harm in that. Besides, they were curious to see what he looked like. So they said okay.
He sent the pic, the girls looked at it, and then they didn’t hear from him again. A few months later, however, he contacted them as before, asking for pics. When they refused the second time, he said, “I already have pictures of you. I’ll send them to you if you don’t believe me.”
He sent them, and the girls were horrified! The pics showed both of them undressing in their room. They had no idea how he had gotten them; they had never posed for those shots. How was this possible?
Once he knew the girls had viewed the pics, he threatened to post them online and also send them to their parents. They only way they could keep that from happening was to send him more pics of themselves, showing him whatever he asked for.
Fortunately, these two girls made the right choice: they told their parents immediately what was happening. The father called the authorities the next day, and the FBI took their computer, discovering that the pic this man sent of himself to the girls was encrypted, giving him access to their computer once they clicked on it. For months he had been watching both of them undressing in their room via their webcam.
Wow! I didn’t know such things were possible. We are living in an age where the capability of linking one device to another has some scary consequences.
Girls, it isn’t safe to communicate with ANYONE you don’t know, whether online or via phone. You may think you can just talk back and forth without any risk, but that’s no longer the case. These men are professionals, equipped with skills most of us don’t have. Today you can even be found easily through GPS systems on computers and other devices.
Because these girls told their parents about this situation, the FBI was able to trace this man through their computer, and he was arrested and convicted. If they hadn’t been truthful, who knows what might have happened?
Did you notice how this Internet predator threatened the girls in order to frighten them into doing what he wanted? Giving in to that manipulative kind of fear will only take you down a more dangerous path. Oppositely, healthy fear will drive you in the right direction. (Example: Even though I don’t want my parents to know how dumb I’ve been, this situation is scary serious; I’m more afraid of what will happen if I hide the truth and start giving in to this guy’s demands!!) Getting in trouble with your parents is nothing compared to the nightmare that awaits you in the hands of one of these sick men.
For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire; He blesses the greedy and renounces the Lord…He sits in the lurking places of the villages; in the secret places he murders the innocent; His eyes are secretly fixed on the helpless. Psalm 10:3, 8 (NKJ)
Please be wise, girls. Secret eyes can be where you least expect them.
But also know that God’s eyes see all, even traps that are being set for us. (So stories like these do not have to make us feel scared out of our minds or helpless.) Psalm 91 is a wonderful section of Scripture to memorize, full of comforting verses of God’s protection. Here are a few lines from that chapter:
This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Psalm 91:2-4 (NLT)
The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16 (NLT)
In Matthew 10:17, Jesus tells his disciples to be “…wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” What a great instruction for us as we interact with others, both online and off!
So again, let’s not be overwhelmed with fear by stories like these, but let’s choose to be aware of dangers and wise with our choices, putting our trust in our Heavenly Father, setting our love on Him, trusting Him to guide and protect us through every situation we face. Then we can have confidence that He will help us with each step we take in today’s world.
Next post, I’ll share one more story from the FBI agent with you. Be sure to check back next Monday!
Because I care,