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Undersheriff delivers social media safety tips

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LAKE COUNTY — Proliferation of technology has created a new medium for law enforcement to track and investigate criminals but also poses a whole new realm of cyber crime that is at times difficult to prosecute, according to Lake County Undersheriff Dan Yonkin. 

Yonkin spoke at the March Partners in Suicide and Prevention lunch about the benefits and pitfalls of technology in regards to crime. The meeting was sponsored by the Tribal Social Services Circle of Trust Youth Suicide Prevention Program. 

As billions of people took to the web to share those life stories via social media, it only made sense that the criminals began sharing details of their conquest. 

Yonkin said it’s amazing how people who engage in illegal activity will post photos of money, drugs or weapons on their page for the world to see. 

The sheriff’s office can use social sites to help contact witnesses who might not have a phone number or other solid line of contact, Yonkin said. 

Criminals don’t always use the sites to brag. Some of the most common schemes involve using the veil of the Internet as a mask to hide a fake identity. 

“If you have family, friends, loved ones, children that are very familiar and savvy with these things and you aren’t paying attention to what they are doing, they are at risk,” Yonkin said. “Kids will be kids. Kids are curious and unfortunately all of these sites have a dark side to them. Certainly savvy pedophiles know how to work those things.” 

Some actions on sites like Snapchat are difficult to trace. Snapchat is in application that allows a person to send a photo that is displayed to the viewer for a few seconds, and then self-destructs. 

“It sounds like a really cool thing,” Yonkin said. “I can just send my friend a really quick picture ... I’m not cluttering their phone, but now we have cases where Snapchat’s being used for the dark side. We have kids who are in contact with adults and they are sending naked pictures to that individual.” 

Children and teens might not realize it, but those photos can be stored by the receiver via a screenshot. 

It’s become a choice way for pedophiles to receive images. 

Yonkin encouraged parents to teach social media responsibility and monitor their children’s digital activity.

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