A 14-year-old Fairfax boy is accused of creating a contest to generate child pornography.
The juvenile allegedly masterminded the disturbing scheme through the popular social app Kik, which boasts more than 200 million users who can share messages, photos and videos with made-up screen names.
“We talk to kids now and they say, 'Well my parents are on Facebook so we’re not using Facebook anymore.' And Kik is now what they’re using,” said Lt. James Bacon of Fairfax County Police’s Child Exploitation Unit.
Bacon follows the social trends and says Kik has become increasingly popular among young teens.
"A predator is the fisherman, and Kik right now is the pond that’s stocked with all the fish,” he said.
A search warrant revealed a recent case involving the app.
A detective in Tempe, Arizona, began investigating a 12-year-old in that jurisdiction who had submitted nude images to the screen name “AAAproductions” on Kik.
“AAAproductions" claimed to offer the chance to win $30,000 for child pornography.
Police traced the IP address to a home in a Fairfax City neighborhood.
The affidavit says the father answered the door and turned over two of his children’s cell phones. Police said they found child pornography on one of them.
According to the warrant, police found “numerous images of child pornography” that were “recorded in Fairfax County” on the 14-year-old suspect's phone.
The suspect was allegedly “sexually abusing his younger brother” and “another unknown young male” in the videos.
Part of the problem for police is finding the person behind the screen name.
Another issue is that Kik is a Canadian company.
However, Bacon said, “In the last few months they’ve become very good at honoring court subpoenas and court documents.”
Bacon stressed the company itself operates legitimately and within the law. That puts much of the burden on parents, he said.
“It’s your kid and your phone and you need to know what your kid’s doing on the phone,” he said. "Your kid should not have a password that you don’t have.”
The 14-year-old is in the Fairfax County Juvenile Detention Center facing several charges.