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30 Fairfax County online predators busted in Operation COVID Crackdown

Coronavirus school closures are inadvertently putting children at higher risk for exploitation, police say.

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — Police in Fairfax County arrested 30 men and charged them with 68 felonies following an online sting dubbed Operation COVID Crackdown.

In each case, the men, ranging in age from 20 to 74, used online platforms to initiate explicit conversations and solicit sex from police officers posing as children.

School closures and the implementation of distance learning due to COVID-19 have increased many children's online presence and inadvertently placed them at higher risk of exploitation.

Police urge parents to closely monitor their children’s online activities and use available security settings to prevent the use of age-inappropriate sites or platforms.

Additional internet safety information provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children can be found here.

"Our detectives have remained vigilant and they recognized the increased threat posed by online predators in recent weeks," said Major Ed O'Carroll, Bureau Commander, Major Crimes. "I commend their ability to adapt during this unprecedented public health pandemic and to do so in the interest of protecting our children and bringing justice to those who commit these repugnant crimes."

Anyone with information regarding other cases involving the exploitation of children or human trafficking is asked to contact the Major Crimes Bureau at 703-246-7800, option 6. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone at1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477), by text: Type "FCCS" plus the tip to 847411.

Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 if their information leads to an arrest.

RELATED: Fairfax County schools' distance learning continues with multiple technical issues

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