The FBI issued a warning on Twitter regarding
A post published by Feds cites the cases of young people that were victims of the disconcerting and awful criminal practice,
“One victim was a 14-year-old boy from West Virginia. Another victim from Michigan was only 12. Yet another was a 17-year-old girl from Ohio who attempted suicide in a desperate try to escape the situation.” states the FBI.
“In total, the FBI was able to identify 20 young people who were harassed, threatened, and sexually exploited online by an Indiana man who had served as a youth minister in his community. “
The agency recommends youngsters to block or ignore anything that comes in from someone you don’t know in real life.
FBI is seeing a significant increase in activity involving sextortion, “a federal crime that happens when an adult coerces a child to produce sexually explicit photographs or video of themselves and then send it to them over the Internet.”
The police warn of possible channels used by predators to contact the young victims, such as social networks, dating chat apps, and gaming platforms.
“the FBI is seeing an increasing number of cases start on connected gaming systems, where the competition is intense and the offer of game credits or codes is enough to convince a child to create an explicit image.” explained FBI Special Agent Brian Herrick.
“Whatever technique pushes the young person to produce the first image, fear, coercion, and manipulation keep the crime
The FBI provided the following answers to those interested in have more info on the sextortion scams:
What is sextortion?
Sextortion occurs when an adult, through threat or manipulation, coerces a minor into producing a sexually explicit image and sending it over the Internet.
Why would any child or teen agree to do such a thing?
The individuals carrying out this crime are skilled and ruthless and have honed their techniques and approaches to maximize their chances at success. The entry point to a young person can be any number of mobile or online sites, applications, or games. The approach may come as compliments or flattery or the pretense of beginning a romantic relationship.Another entry point is to offer the child something they value in exchange for a taking a quick picture. This could be the possibility of a modeling contract; online game credits or codes; or money, cryptocurrency, and gift cards.
The third common point of entry is to go right to threats by either claiming they already have an image of the young person that they will distribute or threatening to harm the child or other people or things the child cares about.Once the perpetrator has the first image, they use the threat of exposure or other harm to keep the child producing more and more explicit material.
But my child would never do that.
The FBI has interviewed victims as young as 8, and the crime affects children of both genders and crosses all ethnic and socioeconomic groups. The victims are honor-roll students, the children of teachers, student athletes, etc. The only common trait among victims is Internet access.
Why don’t the victims tell someone or ask for help?
The cycle of victimization continues because the child is afraid—afraid of the repercussions threatened by the criminal and afraid they will be in trouble with their parents, guardians, or law enforcement. By the time a child is a victim, they have done something that may be generating deep feelings of shame and embarrassment. The criminal may also be telling them they have produced child pornography and will be prosecuted for it. In addition, they may fear their access to their phone or computer will be taken away from them as a result of their actions.
How do I protect the young people I know?
Information-sharing and open lines of communication are the best defense. Young people need to know this crime is happening and understand where the risks are hiding. Explain to the children in your life that people can pretend to be anyone or anything online, a stranger reaching out to them online may be doing so with bad intent, and no matter what the platform or application claims, nothing “disappears” online. If they take a photo or video, it always has the potential to become public.
You may choose to place certain limits on your children’s Internet use or spot check their phones and other devices to see what applications they are using and with whom they are communicating. This can be part of an open and ongoing conversation about what it and is not appropriate online. It also may be worth considering a rule against devices in bedrooms overnight or shutting off Wi-Fi access in the overnight hours. Caregivers may also want to review the settings on a young person’s social media accounts with them. Keeping accounts private can prevent predators from gathering their personal information.
The other crucial element is to keep the door open to your child so that they know he or she can come to you and ask for help. Let them know that your first move will be to help—always. These predators are powerful because of fear and the victims suffer ever more negative consequences as the crime carries on over days, weeks, and months.If you are the adult a child trusts with this information, comfort them, help them understand they have been the victim of a crime, and help them report it to law enforcement.
Victims can contact the FBI through the following channels:
• To report suspected sextortion, call the nearest FBI field office or 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324).
• To make a CyberTipline Report with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), visit report.cybertip.org.
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