Authorities see spike in reports of child porn during COVID-19 crisis

As reported by ABC30.com By Nathalie Granda

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — The nature of the COVID-19 pandemic is providing a platform for predators.

With more people online and at home, authorities are getting dozens of tips regarding child pornography.

The Internet Crimes against Children Task Force helps several law enforcement agencies, like the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, investigate online child sex crimes.

In the past couple of months, they’ve been getting about 10 tips a day, which is already adding up to a cyber crimes crisis.

“When you look at it from an annual total, we’ve received 1,500 cyber tips, (in all of) last year we got 1,900,” says Tony Botti with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office.

Those tips have put several offenders behind bars.

Botti says they’ve made about 15 arrests since the beginning of April, including 38-year-old Ivan Serrano, who was arrested on Friday after investigators say he had child porn on his phone”Internet usage is up. There’s people out there downloading this stuff,” says Botti.

Along with tips, their biggest tool in finding perpetrators has been their K-9 Jack, who looks for hidden devices.

“There’s an odor in all electronic devices, so he looks for that odor, uses his nose and locates that odor,” says Botti.

Jack’s handler Detective Scott Schwamb put him to the test, hiding a flash drive and phone in furniture.

Almost immediately, Jack found the items.

It is the K-9’s sharp nose that has helped ICAC investigators put 57-year old Todd Mumma behind bars after they say hidden cameras in his home were being used to produce child pornography.

Deputies advise folks to notify authorities if they see or read anything suspicious before a situation gets worse.

“We definitely feel like there’s a strong correlation between looking at sexual abuse imagery and the touching of children,” says Botti.

They also advise parents to be vigilant of what their kids are looking at online as many continue to stay home.

For more news coverage on the coronavirus and COVID-19 go to ABC30.com/coronavirus

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