06 July 2017

Cops issue chilling warning about paedophiles using mobile app Skout to target young children

COPS have issued a chilling alert about a dating app paedophiles are using to target young kids in the UK.

Devon and Cornwall Police warned that flirting app Skout has been used to send and request graphic images of children and encourage youngsters to engage in sexual acts.

Cops have issued a chilling alert about dating app Skout
Cops have issued a chilling alert about dating app Skout

Skout was forced to shut down its teen community in 2012 after three US rape cases which saw men use the app to target young victims, including a 12-year-old girl.

But children are now allowed back on the location-based app, which refers to itself as the world’s largest for meeting new people.

It works by accessing your location using your smartphone’s GPS and putting users in contact with other people nearby.

As well as swapping messages users can give virtual gifts and send pictures.

Despite the company saying it does not allow indecent material to be sent, users have posted pictures on Twitter showing illicit messages being sent.

You can use the “Shake to Chat” feature in which users can shake their phone and instantly be connected with someone else who is shaking theirs as well.

Christopher Bradley Nutt was jailed after admitting having sex with a 12-year-old girl he met on Skout
Escondido Police

Christopher Bradley Nutt was jailed after admitting having sex with a 12-year-old girl he met on Skout[/caption]

Children are now allowed back on the location-based app

Children are now allowed back on the location-based app[/caption]

There is even a “Skout Travel” feature that allows users to virtually travel to different cities or countries to meet others.

“Skout gives you the ability to connect with people no matter where you are,” a spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said.

“Skout matches you with people you want to chat with, whether they are nearby or in a city you want to visit.

“This app has been used within the region, in Devon and Cornwall, to send and request indecent images of children and attempt to incite children to engage in sexual activity online.

“As with a lot of apps, the popularity of which ebbs and flows, the non app specific advice should be adhered to.

“Young persons should ensure they use age appropriate apps, be wary of the information and or images they choose to share online, as the person on the other end may not be the person they have made themselves out to be.”

Any user between the ages of 13 to 17 will automatically be placed in the teen section of the app, which bans private photo sharing.

But when you sign up to the app, the user’s age is not verified, so it is easy for adults to gain access to the kids’ section and vice versa.

In one chilling case, Christopher Bradley Nutt was jailed after admitting having sex with a 12-year-old girl he met on Skout.

He was found with the child in his bedroom in California after she was reported missing by her mother.

Schools have sounded the alarm about a new Snapchat feature over fears it could allow perverts to track and attack innocent children.

Snap Map is a new function which lets people broadcast their exact whereabouts to “friends”.

YouTube / Snapchat

Snap Map plots users on a global mat, with ‘hotspots’ appearing in areas where lots of people are posting about one event[/caption]

But teachers are worried it could help paedos and sickos target youngsters.

Two grammar schools in Dorset have written to parents and urged them to get their kids to switch off the location tracking function.

The BBC also published excerpts from a letter sent out by an unnamed school in which it warned parents the app’s new feature raised “serious safeguarding concerns”.

Jez Graves, assistant head teacher and designated safeguarding lead at Parkstone Grammar in Poole, said: “In order to maintain their safety we would recommend that students switch this feature off to ensure that their location is kept private from other users on this platform.”

Anna Collins, deputy head teacher at Bournemouth School for Girls, said “As ever, we remain concerned about ensuring the safety of girls online both in and out of school.

“It has come to our attention that Snapchat released an update that will impact on all users. The update now includes a map which plots all users of Snapchat and the locations of users clearly identified.”

Snapchat is a picture and video app used by millions of people all over the world.

Pictures and videos can be sent which then self-destruct within a few seconds of being viewed.

Getty Images

Snapchat allows user to send self-destructing images[/caption]

The app, used mainly by teenagers, is primarily for humorous exchanges of pictures, although it became notorious as a tool for sending sexts and nudes.

But use of the new Snap Maps feature means a person can be traced to a specific building.

There are fears that it allows others to build up a picture of someone’s life and where they are at specific times and dates.

Police fear the new app could be used for stalking and even kidnapping.

Preston Police in Lancashire said on its Facebook page “Obviously this may cause concern for certain users, particularly those who have young children who use the app.”

A spokesman for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children said “It’s worrying that Snapchat is allowing under 18s to broadcast their location on the app where it can potentially be accessed by everyone in their contact lists.

“With public accounts, this will include those who are not known to the user. This highlights why it’s vital children are automatically offered safer accounts on social media to ensure they are protected from unnecessary risks.”

Nadia Sawalha blasts 'creepy' new Snapchat update in video with her daughter

Parents can turn the feature off on children’s phones by setting the app to ‘ghost mode’.

A spokesperson for the company producing the app said “The safety of our community is very important to us and we want to make sure that all Snapchatters, parents and educators have accurate information about how the Snap Map works.

“With Snap Map, location-sharing is off by default for all users and is completely optional. Snapchatters can choose exactly who they want to share their location with, if at all, and can change that setting at any time.

“It’s also not possible to share your location with someone who isn’t already your friend on Snapchat, and the majority of interactions on Snapchat take place between close friends.”

snapchat map
One woman took to Twitter to expose her cheating boyfriend

To turn on ghost mode, just pinch the screen when you are in selfie mode to bring up Snap Map.
Then, click the settings icon in the top right-hand corner and set the phone to ghost mode, which will stop Snapchat from sharing your location.

One love rat was caught out thanks to Snapchat’s new maps feature – and he’s not the only one.

NHS doctors were also recently caught using Snapchat to send patients’ private health information.


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