Nude website targets local girls
St. Joseph County police say they've uncovered the website every parent fears.
It's an anonymous message board that allows people to upload nude photos of local girls without being identified, and it's already targeting girls in our area.
Police asked WSBT not to release the name of the website.
Eric Tamashasky, head of the county's Cyber Crimes Unit, said police have already found at least 300 inappropriate photos of local high schoolers. Some of them are under 18.
He said the site used to be something of an "urban legend" in the cyber crime world, but now it's real.
"This was a rumored website," Tamashasky said. "People were whispering, 'Oh, there's a location where all the local girls are posted.' It's not a rumor, it's there."
The site has at least 1 billion photos, but they're sorted by state and area code. You can even search for specific girls by first name and last initial.
So, how does a picture that you take of yourself on your phone end up on this site for everyone to see?
Tamashasky said girls are sending nude photos to their boyfriends or guys they think they can trust, who then post them to the site, even trading pictures with other guys, almost like a game.
In fact, every naked picture that gets uploaded is called a "win."
"This is the new way of trading baseball cards," Tamashasky said. "Except it's not baseball cards. It's selfies and snaps and pictures people thought were private."
And the scariest thing? There's nothing police can do about it.
The website is hosted internationally out of Panama, and the posters are kept anonymous.
There's no way for police to track them down.
"Once the information's out, it's gone," Tamashasky said. "Every one of those pictures, you can download with a right click. Those pictures are never coming back."
The only thing parents can do is keep their daughters from taking and sending anything they'll regret later.
Lauren Hodges said she keeps close watch over her teenage daughter's cell phone.
"We actually can view all texts. That's something with our iPhones we have our capability to do," Hodges said. "That's something as parents, both Dad and Mom, we can actually read their texts."
Tamashasky says the website is a few years old, but is being constantly updated.
The last photo uploaded to the 574 area code section was done two days ago.