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Something weird is happening in Alabama — and it's an important reminder to stay safe online

Growing up, your parents probably advised you to be cautious with reminders like "look both ways before crossing the street" and "don't run with scissors." One of the most important? "Don't talk to strangers." The thing about that last one is that it applies to strangers in real life *and* online.

Someone who goes by the name of "Atur Bhuck of Santa Fe, NM" has been sending suspicious care packages to more than 50 elementary school-age girls in Alabama, according to The Washington Post.

Bhuck claims in a letter to be a 14-year-old, mentally disabled boy who was once bullied. The care packages included food and a letter that stated his "identity" and asked the girls to write him back via email, according to a Facebook post by the Covington County District Attorney's Office in Alabama. They believe this person is a predator.

It is unclear how this person found the girls who received these packages or the school they attended. The FBI has been investigating and found that the email address has been linked to somewhere in Houston and was also found on websites where inappropriate comments were made.

Often, predators target those who are most vulnerable: young girls and preteens who use the internet. So when using social media, be sure you're only in contact with people you know. Keep personal information such as emails, home addresses, phone numbers and locations offline to prevent strangers from tracking you.

Social media is a great way to connect with others, but as showcased in this incident, unfortunate things can happen to anyone. Practicing caution is always essential. 

If you or a friend receive any suspicious emails, messages or requests online, alert a parent, guardian, counselor or teacher. For more safe social networking tips, visit connectsafely.org.

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by Toyin Akinwande | 5/3/2018
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