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FBI warns public about increase in sextortion schemes

FBI warns public about increase in sextortion schemes
Published: May. 31, 2022 at 11:25 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WECT) - The FBI Charlotte office has issued a warning to parents and caregivers about an increase in sextortion schemes targeting teenage boys.

The FBI reported teenage boys are being targeted through social media by adults posing as young girls on platforms such as games, apps, or social media.

The predator uses deception and manipulation to convince a young male, usually 14 to 17 years old, to engage in explicit activity over video, which is then secretly recorded by the scammer.

The suspects then extort money from the victims by threatening to post the explicit photos or videos online.

So far in 2022, FBI Charlotte has received 29 reports of sextortion, 23 of which involved demands for money from mostly male victims.

“The FBI will not tolerate on-line predators targeting our children,” said FBI Charlotte Special Agent in Charge Robert R. Wells. “We will continue to work with our state and local partners to protect our children from sextortion crimes and hold these criminals accountable. This also highlights the importance of parents regularly engaging with their children regarding social media activity. Children must understand they cannot trust someone online who they’ve never met in person.”

To protect you and your children online, the FBI provided the following tips :

1. 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.

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

3. 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.

4. Be suspicious if you meet someone on a game or app and they ask you to start talking to them on a different platform.

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

If you believe you or someone you know is the victim of sextortion:

1. Contact local law enforcement or the FBI at tips.fbi.gov or the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.ic3.gov,

2. Do not delete anything on your device before law enforcement is able to review it.

3. Tell law enforcement everything about the encounters you had online; it may be embarrassing, but it is necessary to find the offender and can protect other children.

More than 18,000 sextortion-related complaints were received by IC3 in 2021.

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