LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- It is happening across the country and right here in the New Orleans metro area. Pimps are targeting popular social networking sites to recruit kids as sex workers, and local law enforcement agencies are fighting back.

'It is a cat and mouse game. Sometimes we're ahead of them, other times they're ahead of us,' said Toby Aguillard with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office Internet Crimes Against Children Division.

'I can think of no better place than to go online on any one of the social networking sites and you will find children -- whatever age group you're interested in -- they will be there, if not in the hundreds, but thousands,' said Aguillard.

The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office says more young kids are being coaxed into prostitution on social networking sites.

'One of those active investigations involves a 14-year-old girl who was coaxed and met to work as a prostitute in the Baton Rouge area,' said Aguillard.

Authorities say those online predators are getting shrewd: they're asking their victims to use web cams, send texts or pictures; and in some cases, a good old fashion phone call to make sure that they're dealing with children and not undercover agents.

'It scares me. I talk to her all the time about not posting pictures and personal things, anything that can be able to track you, find you or figure out where you are,' said Diane Terrell.

Eyewitness News caught up with Terrell and her daughter, Alaina, on Wednesday night at a Metairie shopping center.

'I thought it was very scary. She just had a crush on this guy and he ended up trafficking her,' said Alaina, who recently had a lesson at school about human trafficking.

'I use all the privacy settings and don't accept people I don't know. I'm very cautious about that. Make sure there's no 40-year-old man trying to friend me that I don't know,' said Alaina.

The FBI says its also seen a spike in these cases.

Authorities say you can help protect your child by being a part of their lives, recognizing when something is going on, asking questions and not ignoring anything suspicious.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://www.wwltv.com/story/news/2014/09/03/14577800/