CONSUMER FIRST ALERT: FBI sees increase in sextortion targeting teen boys

Updated: Aug. 7, 2022 at 6:00 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The FBI has reported an increase in sextortion scams targeting teens--especially boys 14 to 17.

In a Consumer First Alert, Tammy Elliott reports about sextortion and why parents may not be aware it is happening to their child.

A sextortion scam can start with online flirting and move to requests for revealing photos. The scammers will then start to make threats.

Joe Laramie, a former investigator with Internet Crimes Against Children, says they’re seeing an evolution in the past four-to-six months of sextortion for financial reasons more than sexual reasons.

The nonprofit group Connect Safety put together an online guide to sextortion for parents.

CLICK HERE for the full guide.

Connect Safety says sextortion scammers are skilled and sometimes work for teams. They use flattery, gifts, promises, money, or threats.

It can start as a friendship. There are cases in which a scammer poses as an employee for a modeling agency and asks for pictures.

The Cyberbullying Research Center says five percent of teens have been the target of sextortion. Only one-third of those victims told their parents. The center says teens who identify as non-heterosexual were more than twice as likely to be victims.

Parents are encouraged to talk about sextortion with their children. Ask them to be honest. Let them know they are the victim, not the criminal.

Remind children to never share intimate images.

Avoid someone who asks to meet up on another platform.

Contact law enforcement to report the crime.

Support your child. It can be traumatic. Consider contacting a mental health professional.

Being a victim can bring feelings of embarrassment and depression, fear and confusion. These things may prevent kids from asking for help.

There have been recent reports of teen victims of sextortion who died by suicide.

Child advocates say this is serious. If your kids are online, don’t wait until they come to you to talk about it.

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