(WXYZ) — When investigators busted a ring of child predators who convinced more than 100 girls to send them pornographic images, they found they not only targeted children – they wrote down instructions for others on how to target children.
It is a challenge every parent faces: watching what your child is doing online. The fear is a stranger pretending to be a child could be a predator.
“We do have more of these cases than other places in the country, significantly more,” said Matthew Schneider, United States Attorney for Michigan’s Eastern District. “…We have focused on prosecuting child predators and that is why we have more of these cases.”
Tonight at 6 on WXYZ we give you a look inside a predators' playbook. It is information investigators discovered a group of perverts shared on how to best find children to exploit. I hope parents use it to protect their children. pic.twitter.com/zI5KI2buty— Kim Russell WXYZ (@kimrussell7) June 17, 2019
One case stands out in Schneider's mind. The case against child predators known as the “Bored Group.” This group wrote an instruction manual on how to exploit children. 7 Action News took a close look at their writings, finding information parents can use to protect their children.
“Predators will choose children with the fewest amount of followers because they believe they are the weakest, that they are craving attention,” said Schneider of what he learned from the members of the “Bored Group.”
The group of perverse men took on different jobs. Some called themselves hunters and followed a hunt strategy they typed up on a web page made exclusively for other child predators. They reached out to girls on social media pages like Facebook, Kik or My LOL pretending to be a teen boy.
“Now these are controlled websites," Schneider said. "They’re monitored. You might use Snapchat or Kik, but you can’t put sexually explicit photos on it. What the predators will do is send you a link to another website."
Parents should warn their children that if someone asks them to go to a private website chat room, that it is possible it is a predator.
In the case of the “Bored Group,” the pages all had titles connected to being bored.
Once the teen went to their website they were connected with numerous perverted men pretending to be teens. Some called themselves “talkers,” there to talk and build trust. Some called themselves "loopers," they played a loop of previously recorded conversations and videos of other victims that appeared live with the goal of using peer pressure to encourage the teen to do something sexual on camera.
The teens victimized would even sometimes see polls in the loop that appeared to be voting on how beautiful she was and what she should do to please them. It was all fake and meant to manipulate.
“If you are talking to someone, you do not know that (who) you think is a boy or a teenage girl (is possibly) a 50-year-old guy in somebody’s basement,” Schneider said.
The group had more than 100 victims, including an Oakland County teen.
Schneider says he uses what he has seen in cases like this to protect his children. He educates them about the dangers, controls his children’s phones with an app and has rules on where they can use their cell phones.
“Cell phones for children, they don’t belong in the bedroom," Schneider said. "They don’t belong in the bathroom. In our experience, that is where photos are taken."
A judge sent eight men from around the country to prison for 30 years or longer for being part of the “Bored Group.” We have heard prison is a dangerous place for predators and that proved true. The group's ringleader, Christian Maire, died Jan. 2 after a prison fight broke out at the Milan detention center.