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In the modern age of social networking, cyber shopping and online banking, consumers should be wary of the online predator. The online predator is a criminal who uses the Internet to steal personal information or search for victims. Crimes that involve online predators include identity theft, stalking, kidnapping and child sex abuse.
Online predators often prey on people while they are doing normal business on the cyber world of computing. These criminals take advantage of unsuspected participants by persuading them to trust and share vital information that can be used for criminal purposes.
Some of the worst criminals on the Internet are the pedophiles. These online predators typically spend time in chat rooms and on social networking sites frequented by children. They normally befriend the children with well-practiced manipulative techniques that allow them to coax information from unsuspecting children. This information becomes target data that the predator will use to kidnap his victim or lure a vulnerable child into harmful situations.
Identity thieves are another type of online predator. These individuals use a variety of high-tech strategies to mine the Internet for personal information, account numbers, passwords and other data that make it possible to steal your identity. One technique involves creating a fake online storefront designed to trick unsuspecting consumers into giving their personal information to a site they believe is a legitimate business. The identity thieves can then use that personal financial information for fraudulent purposes.
Cyberstalking and cyberbullying also are crimes of the online predator. This online predator may follow an unsuspecting individual to chat rooms and social networking sites in an attempt to humiliate or slander her. The increase in cyberstalking has become more noticeable with the wide use of many social networking sites.
Government agencies have realized the importance of monitoring online crimes. Many government agencies have created task forces to investigate the wide variety of online crimes and catch online predators. Often investigators will lure predators into a trap of their own, leading them to reveal enough information for authorities to find them. To catch them offline, investigators working undercover convince predators to reveal details that can be used as evidence, and to then meet up with them in the real world where police can arrest the predator.
Online consumers should take precautions at all times. Children should be taught to avoid conversation with unknown individuals on the Internet. Additionally, consumers should refrain from sharing unnecessary information on suspicious websites.
The best way to avoid online predators is to never give out personal information of any sort online. To keep children from being victimized, always monitor the child's internet activity and discuss ground rules for online involvement.
The movies Strangeland and Hard Candy are both film adaptations dealing with the problem of online predators and their victims/potential victims. In addition, the television show To Catch A Predator also depicts instances of online predators attempting to engage in sexual relationships with minors.
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