Sheriff's Office

For Immediate Release

PR #: 2000115
Date Issued: Sep 10, 2020 - 10:39am

Social Media post regarding attempted sex trafficking kidnapping in Spanish Springs unsubstantiated

CONTACT: Sarah Johns
911 Parr Blvd
Reno, NV. 89512
Office: 775-785-6235
Cell: 775-391-0407

The Washoe County Sheriff's Office is aware of a social media post that's been shared thousands of times over the past five days. The post states that a Spanish Springs girl was home alone while distance learning from high school. The post then suggests that sex traffickers almost kidnapped her and explained the supposed circumstances.

"Neither the Washoe County Sheriff's Office dispatch, the Northern Nevada Regional Intelligence Center, nor the regional Human Exploitation and Trafficking unit have been able to verify this account," Sheriff Darin Balaam said. "Bringing awareness to sex trafficking, however, and circumstances under which it could occur is important. While the social media post is similar to urban legends shared on social media, we have, again, been unable to verify the report.

"Right now is an extremely tough time for children, teens and parents to navigate," Sheriff Balaam added. "Children and teens may be home alone and on computers for school. Unfortunately, parents aren't always able to monitor their children's actions while at home or online. It sounds basic, but Washoe County Sheriff's Office Cyber Security Detectives say the best, and most effective, way to protect your children online is to have open discussions regarding cyber safety."

The Washoe County Sheriff's Office encourages conversations about protecting children, especially if they are home alone. "Parents should make sure their children are aware of their surroundings and if something unusual occurs, parents and children should have a plan - whether it's calling each other, calling a trusted friend or adult or calling the Sheriff's Office," Sheriff Balaam said.

According to a study conducted by the Center for Cyber Safety and Education, 40% of fourth-eighth graders chatted with a stranger online. More than half of them revealed their phone number to a stranger. And of those surveyed, 87% were taught how to use the internet safely.

Cyber Safety Tips for Parents:

  • Discuss the dangers of the internet with your child and set ground rules to follow.
  • Some handheld games connect to the internet. Understand the technology you bring home.
  • Review safety/parental controls on your computer, search engine, email, and instant messaging.
  • Monitor your child's online activity and the sites they visit.
  • If you feel it's necessary, install monitoring applications.
  • Keep the computer or laptop in a common area, not in your child's bedroom.
  • If your children are dealing with cyber bullies or potential predators, report them immediately to an authority figure.
  • Continually check-in with your children regarding their internet safety, and look for additional devices your children may acquire without your knowledge.
  • Some children may want to seek fame and/or popularity online or on apps. Parents need to be aware of their children's state of mind.

Cyber Safety Tips for Teens:

  • Never take images of yourself that you wouldn't want everyone- your classmates, teachers, family or your employers - to see.
  • Keep social networking site profiles set to "private."
  • Do not give out personal details such as address or school information.
  • Turn off your webcam after using it so it cannot be hacked.
  • Do not present yourself as dating material.
  • Do not use voice chat when playing an online game, unless there is a feature that allows you to disguise your voice.
  • Do not accept downloads from strangers. This includes cheat programs that may claim to help you perform better in an online game, but really could be carrying malware.
  • Do not send out materials to fellow gamers that contains personal information and/or data.
  • Do not meet a stranger from your gaming world in person. People are not always who they say they are.
  • Tell someone! If you ever feel uncomfortable about communications online, tell a trusted adult. Even if what you have to tell the adult is embarrassing, it's better to tell someone and get the appropriate help as soon as possible.
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The Washoe County Sheriff's Office is dedicated to preserving a safe and secure community with professionalism, respect, integrity and the highest commitment to equality. Sheriff Darin Balaam is the 27th person elected to serve as the Sheriff of Washoe County since the Office was created in 1861. The Washoe County Sheriff's Office strives to ensure public safety by building trust and creating partnerships within the diverse communities in which we serve. We will promote the dignity of all people supported by our words and actions through open communication while fostering an environment of professionalism, integrity and mutual respect.