Accused Child Predator Allegedly Used Fortnite To Lure Victims, Florida Deputies Say

TAMARAC, Fla. (FOX8) — A Florida man has been arrested and faces charges of child pornography and unlawful sex with a minor after allegedly using the popular video game “Fortnite” to victimize at least 20 minors.

Anthony Gene Thomas (Courtesy of Broward County Sheriff’s Office)

According to WSVN, authorities say their investigation into Anthony Gene Thomas, 41, began after a 17-year-old girl whose family reported her missing was found with him.

Although the girl was returned home safely, sheriff’s office officials were reportedly suspicious of Thomas and his alleged co-conspirator.

Their investigation revealed that the teenager had been lured into a sexual relationship with Thomas online.  Authorities told the news outlet that the relationship began last summer.

“They made contact with the victim via the ‘Fortnite’ gaming platform, which is a popular game today, obviously,” Broward Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Thomas McInerney told WSVN. “There is a communication aspect to that, a chatting aspect to that. A lot of children are on there, so predators out there know that children are there.”

Law enforcement officials arrested Thomas Thursday after a search warrant unveiled photos and videos of the 17-year-old girl, the news outlet said.

Authorities reportedly believe there are at least 20 victims.  They say the co-conspirator would contact the victims online and develop a relationship with them. Then, this individual would reportedly introduce the victims to Thomas who then allegedly gave them gifts and a cell phone to communicate directly.

Police say that Thomas’ arrest serves as a warning to parents.

“Parents need to know that predators will use any means possible to target and exploit a child,” Attorney General Ashley Moody told WSVN. “I am asking parents and guardians to please make sure you know who your children meet online and talk to them about sexual predators.”

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