HARTSELLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Parents, do you know what the Whisper app is? You should know if your child is using it.
Boaz police say a self-confessed sex addict used it to communicate with a young girl and drove to meet up for sex, even sending and asking for nude photos while on the road.
Patrick Caver is a Hartselle attorney who travels everywhere talking to parents about dangerous apps teens are using. The class is called Birds & Bees and Law. We asked him about Whisper. It allows users to post and share photo and video messages anonymously.
"You can pretend to be anyone you want to be," he said "You don't sign into it. You don't make a profile. You just download the app and start seeing this stuff. It shows you someone less than one mile away from right here."
Whisper isn't a new app. It's been around for several years and it's becoming increasingly popular in North Alabama. It allows users to remain anonymous and post confessions, as well as chat with others nearby by using your location.
"For teenagers and preteens, to them, since they're out of school, they assume that anyone else talking to them is also out of school and the same age. These bad people know that and they're pretending to be something they're not," Caver explained.
According to the Boaz police chief, 29 year old Kevin Guerrero-Beltran of Owens Crossroads used Whisper to talk to a girl. Her parent learned about it and when Guerrero-Beltran tried to meet up, he was arrested.
He was charged with traveling to meet a child for an unlawful sex act.
"A parent intercepted the messages and notified the Boaz Police Department. When Mr. Guerrero-Beltran arrived at the specified location he was met by Boaz Police Officers," Boaz Police Chief Josh Gaskin said in a press release.
With children out for summer and many having more time on their hands, this should serve as a reminder to parents to monitor what their children are doing on their phones and computers. There are predators on many commonly used apps and websites waiting for an opportunity to victimize a child, the chief added.
According to Gaskin, Guerrero-Beltran sent nude pics of his penis and asked for nude pics while driving. He admitted to investigators that he is a sex addict and wanted sex, the chief said.
And the same thing just happened with the Whisper app in Colorado. News reports indicate that a bus driver went to meet a 14 year old girl for sex. Instead, detectives were waiting.
Officials say parents need to constantly monitor what their kids are doing on their devices.
"Especially in the summertime, this is the time of year when the kids are by themselves more. So when a parent is working during the day and they come home, they need to see the phone and see who their child is talking to. There's ways to look at the history," Caver stated.
Another tip- look to see whether your child is using the My Eyes Only feature on Snap Chat where they can store photos that are password protected.
“All of the young people I talk to about Snap Chat, they all have the My Eyes Only. In fact, when I mention it, most of them start smiling,” Caver added.
Lt. Donny Shaw, pubic information officer for the Madison County Sheriff’s Office says there are applications you can download that monitor your children’s activity on their phones. And keep in mind, a cell phone doesn’t have to be connected to a provider. They can be using it at home and be working over the wifi and still using those apps.
He urges parents to look at the personal preferences on their devices.
“You can set it to where they can’t download any of the apps themselves and they can’t conceal any of the things that they’re doing. There’s also apps you can download to monitor their activities,” Shaw said. “Keep abreast of all the things your children are doing on their devices and don’t let something like this come up where it’s a surprise and they’ve been exposed to a dangerous situation.”