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Officer With Top Online Predator Team Offers Advice About ‘Sextortion’

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Mike Harris (credit: CBS)

Mike Harris (credit: CBS)

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – A confessed pedophile from Indiana counts a boy from Colorado among his many victims. The case highlights the newest battle for police tracking online predators.

It’s called “sextortion” and the best investigative team in the state talked to CBS4′s Dominic Garcia about the crimes.

With so much technology at children’s finger tips, there’s more ways to get online than ever. One thing the investigators say children don’t realize is once they take a picture of themselves and send it, it’s out in cyber space forever.

Richard Finkbiner told investigators he was able to coerce over 100 children to do just about anything he wanted and record it on his web cam. His method was sextortion.

RELATED: Indiana Man To Plead Guilty To ‘Sextortion’

“Sextortion, extortion, it’s all one in the same,” said Mike Harris, an investigator with the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office.

Harris says sextortion is when a predator is able to get a victim to take a picture or video of themselves doing something embarrassing. Once they do, they have them hooked.

“And then someone says, ‘Hey, if you don’t send me more, if you don’t do this, I’m going to show those pictures to your friends,’ ” Harris said.

Richard Finkbiner (credit: CBS)

Richard Finkbiner (credit: CBS)

These days children have computers, phones, tablets, and new social networking sites are popping up all the time. They are just more avenues for predators.

“They post so much information out there that it’s very easy to figure out who their friends are, what school they go to, which makes it even easier to expose them,” Harris said.

Sextortion can have devastation consequences. Amanda Todd described how she was a victim of sextortion online and shortly after she committed suicide.

“They’re way over their heads, and they have nowhere to turn because they’re scared,” Harris said. “One because of their age, and they’re still under the guidance of their parents.”

Harris says parents can’t be afraid to be intrusive and know what their children are doing online and on their phone. Harris also offers advice to children in presentations.

“Don’t talk to anybody, whether it be online or on your cellphone, unless you know them face to face,” he said.

Harris’ team gives over 100 presentations at schools a year. Their program is called “Cheezo,” based off their unit’s name. On their website they have a lot of information on who they’ve arrested and great tips for children and parents.

LINK: Cheezo.org

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