KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Police are investigating a man who is accused of using a tool meant to explore, to exploit. FOX 4 dug deeper into the technology of cell phone "jailbreaking" after allegations were made that a Kansas City man used it to entice children.
Police say six children have come forward with claims that a man who offered to trick out their phones also offered them money if they watched pornography on them. Jailbreaking a phone essentially means that the user has freedom to customize it in any way they want, free from restrictions or rules on how their device operates or the types of apps they can download.
The police report in this case alleges once the suspect completed a jailbreak, he would sometimes tell the child he would pay them to watch porn on that device, offering more money to kids who agreed to touch themselves while watching.
A technician at Digital Doc in Kansas City says jailbreaking is widely used to download a wide range of third-party apps, themes and task bars. He says it's legal but tough to figure out on your own, especially for the average kid, which could be why they look to others for help tricking out their phone.
“It was bait. The bait can be swapped out for a number of different things and this was just what this one was. He knew there was a demand for that service, so he went after that service to take advantage of it,” technician Joe Miledi explained. "The limits of what can actually be done on it are only limited to how clever the developer wants to be. Once you have that access into the lower levels of the system that Apple tries to keep people out of, you can do whatever you want."
Police are not saying exactly how jailbreaking might be related to the requests to watch porn, but Miledi said it could make a kid vulnerable to another person accessing their private info.
One way to tell if your child's phone has been jailbroken, just open it up and look at the layout. If it looks different than your typical iPhone apps, that's a red flag.
As the investigation continues, the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph confirmed a parishioner at St. Therese Parish in Platte County is the suspect in this case.
In a statement, the Diocese says the church notified the Diocese and the Missouri Child Abuse Hotline last week. The man is a former youth ministry volunteer, who served between 2006 and 2008. A diocesan spokesman declined an on-camera interview, but said the police investigation involves other children, none who attend St. Therese.