“Sextortion: It’s More Common Than You Think”

It starts innocently enough: a teen boy and girl meet online playing a video game. They chat, and soon they become interested in each other. The chat moves to text or Snapchat. After some compliments and other encouraging talk, the girl sends a picture of herself, and the boy then does the same. Once the predator/extortionist has a few pictures of the boy, then the struggle begins. The girl threatens to send them to all of the boy’s followers on Instagram or Snapchat or text them to his parents or friends unless money is sent to her. The boy panics and doesn’t know what to do.

Per a recent FBI report, “over 3,000 minor victims were targeted in the past year across the United States.” Due to embarrassment and underreporting, this number may be significantly higher. These cases were primarily boys. Out of these cases, there were over a dozen suicides reported as a result of the sextortion. Many of the extortioners originated outside of the US in countries such as Nigeria and the Ivory Coast.

For parents, here are few of the red flags for sextortion: 

  • Receiving gifts through the mail, cell phones, gift cards and webcams.
  • Calling unknown numbers.
  • Rejecting family and friends in favor of spending time online.
  • Getting upset when he or she can’t get online.
  • Minimizing the screen or turning off the monitor when you come into the room.

I’ve tried to provide some great resources on the Legal Resources tab of the website. 

The Department of Homeland Security has some great information on the website. 

Kids are easy targets. Let’s protect them.  ~Ryan