Adults are using fake profiles on Social Media posing as young girls to coerce young boys to produce sexual images and videos, then extorting money from them, according to the San Diego FBI.
The FBI defines sextortion as an adult contacting a minor over any online platform used to meet and communicate, such as a game, app, or social media account. Authorities warn that predators posing as a young girls use deception and manipulation to convince young males, usually 14 to 17 years old, to engage in explicit activity over the video, which is then secretly recorded by the predator.
Predators would then reveal they made the recordings and attempted to extort the victim for money. According to authorities, these complaints involving young boys have increased, mostly for money, but others were reportedly sextorted for additional images.
“Education and awareness are key to combatting this evolving threat, and we want families to take part in these important discussions regarding online safety. Reporting these incidents to law enforcement will help to prevent it from happening to someone else,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Stacey Moy.
According to authorities, sextortion offenders may have hundreds of victims worldwide, and children may feel a sense of embarrassment from such a traumatic experience. Victims of sextortion are encouraged to come forward in order to help law enforcement identify and apprehend suspects to prevent additional incidents of sexual exploitation from occurring.
“To prevent continued victimization, it is imperative children come forward to someone—a parent, teacher, caregiver, or law enforcement,” The FBI wrote in a statement.
The FBI urges children to be mindful of who they are communicating with online, regardless of the game or social media platform. The FBI provided the following tips to help protect children online:
- Be selective about what you share online, especially your personal information and passwords. If your social media accounts are open to everyone, 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 your children to report suspicious behavior to a trusted adult.
If you believe you or someone you know is the victim of sextortion:
- Contact your local FBI field office (contact information can be found at www.fbi.gov), the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.ic3.gov, or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (1-800-the-lost or Cybertipline.org).
- Do not delete anything before law enforcement is able to review it.
- Tell law enforcement everything about the encounters you had online; it may be embarrassing, but it is necessary to find the offender.