How does a simple computer repair job turn into a criminal investigation?

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Friday, May 3, 2019
News 12 O'Clock/NBC at 7

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- A tech repair job can quickly turn into a criminal investigation.

Cecilia Mendez hasn't seen it at her shop, Gadget Repair Clinic, but other repair shops are coming across child exploitation.

"We're not looking for it, and most places don't, but sometimes if your screen is black and we're fixing your computer and we happen to get it to turn on, that could be possibly the last thing you looked at, so it's going to be bam right in your face,” Mendez said.

Big companies like Google, Facebook and Best Buy are required by federal law to report any child pornography they see. But Mendez says smaller tech companies like hers don't have to.

But doesn't mean they don't.

“We've had conversations with our team on how to handle these particular situations,” Mendez said. “We let them know you need to let the manager know ahead of you and then immediately we call law-enforcement."

It’s a call law enforcement encourages and says is a big help. Mendez says it comes down to morals.

"On a computer, you have to sometimes open up the web browser to see what went wrong and then you would see some of those search histories," Mendez said.

Again, they don't go snooping through their customers’ files looking for it but sometimes it comes with the job.

So, how do police handle cases here?

The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office has a specific unit to handle child porn. Sometimes they’ll pose as children to get these people out of the woodwork. The multi-state bust is huge, investigators say, but there are more people out there.

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