Sextortion warning: Cases of predators getting images, money from teenage boys on the rise, FBI says

The FBI Newark Field Office is warning parents about an increase in reports of sextortion involving teenage boys. 

According to the agency, sextortion is an online crime that involves contact between a minor and an adult on an online platform, such as a gaming website or social media.

"The adult predator or scammer convinces the child to share sexual images or video and then threatens to post the content unless the victim sends more content or money," the FBI said. 

According to federal authorities, the most recent increase in cases mainly targets teenage boys between the age of 14 and 17. 

The field office says the coercion of a child by an adult to produce child sexual abuse material carries heavy penalties, including a possible life sentence for offenders. 

"To make victimization stop, children typically have to come forward to someone - normally a parent, teacher, caregiver, or law enforcement," the FBI said. "The embarrassment children feel from the activity where they were coerced or enticed to engage in is what typically prevents them from coming forward." 

The agency is urging victims to come forward to help stop extortion offenders, who may have hundreds of victims around the world. 

"We want parents, teachers, other relatives, anyone who is in a child’s life, to be aware," said Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch, Jr. "Having these critical conversations with your child or keeping tabs on their online activity is a responsibility no parent should take lightly.  Education is the best form of prevention and nothing is more important than protecting your child."

The agency provided the following tips to parents and guardians: 

  • Be selective about what personal information you share online
  • Be wary of anyone you encounter for the first time online. Block or ignore messages from strangers
  • Remember that people can pretend to be anything or anyone on the internet. Videos and photos are not proof that a person is who they claim to be. 
  • Be suspicious if you meet someone on a game or app and they request to move the conversation to a different ap
  • Encourage your children to report suspicious behavior to a trusted adult
  • Talk to you child about the risks and dangers of sharing sexually explicit content

If you or someone you know may be a victim of extortion, contact your local FBI field office or the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center here





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