Parents alarmed after reports of online predator targeting teens in Yates County

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    PENN YAN, NY (WHAM) -- Tabitha Nissen has a daughter in 10th grade at Penn Yan High School. She calls the reports of an online predator disturbing.

    “Scared," she says. "Scared that they have no idea how to protect themselves and we have no idea how to protect them either. It can happen in the blink of an eye.”

    Both the Penn Yan and Dundee School Districts posted warnings for parents online. Police say seven students in Yates County have come forward - all describing someone on social media, claiming they have nude pictures of them and demanding more.

    “Attempting to blackmail them saying they’ll release those images if they don’t send more images," says Penn Yan Police Chief Thomas Dunham. “It’s very disturbing. It’s disturbing behavior.”

    Penn Yan Police Chief Thomas Dunham says his Department is working closely with state police and school resource officers to find the person responsible.

    “We’ll try to track IP addresses to determine where this is coming from," Dunham says. Nissen says her daughter is friends with some of the victims.

    “It is alarming to hear that because we are a small town, and we tend to think things like this won’t happen," she says. She says she's had conversations with her daughter about the dangers lurking online.

    But that doesn't make the news of this any easier to cope with.

    “It’s scary to know they could be walking and someone is taking a picture of them," she said.

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