Sextortion incidents jump, scams now targeting boys, FBI says

Sextortion incidents jump, scams now targeting boys, FBI says
·2 min read

The FBI says there has been a rise in the number of reports where criminals are posing as young girls and targeting teenage boys. They want parents, caregivers and teens to be aware.

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The scam is known as sextortion. It’s when a predator--posing as a child or young girl-- contacts a minor on an online platform, such as a social media platform, games or apps. The predator convinces the victim, usually a young boy, between 14 to 17 years old, to send explicit videos or photos that are secretly recorded by the predator. The predator then reveals that they have made copies of the images and videos and threatens to release the images if a ransom isn’t paid.

The coercion of a child by an adult is considered child sexual abuse material and carries heavy penalties, which can include up to a life sentence for the offender.

The FBI says that while it may be embarrassing for the child, coming forward to help law enforcement identify the offender may prevent other incidents from happening.

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Here are a few ways the FBI says you can protect yourself and and your children online:

  • Be selective about what you share online, especially your personal information and passwords. If your social media accounts aren’t private, a predator may be able to figure out a lot of information about you or your children.

  • Be wary of anyone you encounter for the first time online. Block or ignore messages from strangers.

  • Be aware that people can pretend to be anything or anyone online. 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 ask you to start talking to them on a different platform.

  • Encourage children to report suspicious behavior to a trusted adult.

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According to the release, there have been 50 reports of sextortion victims throughout Georgia so far in 2022. The FBI received 21 reports of sextortion victims in Georgia last year.

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