Feds launch smartphone app to help catch sexual predators

PHOENIX - Federal authorities are launching a new smartphone app that is designed to get the public's help with fugitive and unknown-suspect child predators.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is launching the first-of-its-kind application in U.S. federal law enforcement where tips can be reported anonymously 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

ICE agent Richard Fahy's eyes have seen a lot over the years. But nothing compares to the images he's seen working in the Cyber Crimes division.

"It's horrible. It's some of the most reprehensible stuff we've ever witnessed," Fahy said.

He's investigated hundreds of suspects who target little children and use those kids to make and distribute child pornography.

"It's hard to be a parent and actually separate yourself from that. You always bring it back to ‘what if that was my child,'" Fahy said.

And that's what motivates him to catch the people responsible.

"It can lead to a lot of sleepless nights," he said.

While cyber criminals hide behind the Internet and social media, the agency created a new app called Operation Predator to catch those criminals. The app is constantly updated and people who download the app will get alerts every time there is a new suspect added.

Agents will even post pictures of people they are trying to identity, hoping someone from the public will recognize the person and send in a tip.

"Anybody who's a parent, like myself, wants to know who's out there in their immediate community," said Fahy.

You can also use the app to send in a tip. Currently Operation Predator is available on the iPhone. The agency is developing a version for the Android.

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