We have taken several reports in the last couple months involving teenagers that have been “sextorted” online. Please see this article from the FBI for more information.
This crime occurs on various chat apps or electronic service providers such as Google, Facebook , etc. Sextortion describes a crime that happens online when an adult convinces a person who is younger than 18 to share sexual pictures or perform sexual acts on a webcam.
Sextortion can start on any site where people meet and communicate. Someone may contact you while you are playing a game online or reach out over a dating app or one of your social media accounts.
In some cases, the first contact from the criminal will be a threat. The person may claim they already have a picture or video of you that they will share if you don’t send more pictures. More often, however, this crime starts when young people believe they are communicating with someone their own age who is interested in a relationship or someone who is offering something of value. The adult can use threats, gifts, money, flattery, lies, or other methods to get a young person to produce these images.
After the criminal has one or more videos or pictures, they use the threat of sharing or publishing that content to get the victim to produce more images. (In our cases the suspect will threaten to send the illicit video to family members unless the victim pays the suspect not to).
The adult has committed a crime as soon as they ask a young person for a single graphic image.
Parents/guardians, please have a conversation about this with your teen. Make sure they know that if this happens to them and they do send video/image, they are not in trouble, they are the victim. They may be embarrassed or scared to come to you and tell you what happened. Please also tell your teen that once he/she sends a video/image that it’s now beyond their control as to where it is disseminated next.
Please report all sextortion attempts to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children CyberTip line at https://report.cybertip.org/ and your local law enforcement agency.