Sextortion Scams ‘Exploding’ Online: What Parents Need To Know

Photo from Tianyi Ma via Unsplash

Sextortion Scams ‘Exploding’ Online: What Parents Need To Know

By Movieguide® Contributor

Experts are warning that the number of sextortion scams targeting young men has “exploded in the past couple of years.”

These scams involve a predator pretending to be a young girl who asks young men to send sexually explicit videos and photos. Once they’ve done so, the predator demands money from the men, or else they’ll release the content. 

“They ask the boys to do ridiculous things,” Supervisory Special Agent Barbara Smith of the FBI’s Washington Field Office said. “The more ridiculous the better because that’s going to be more humiliating, and the more humiliating it is, the more money they can extort from them.”

The number of young men targeted in these scams has skyrocketed over the last few years. 

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported that “it already had received more than 12,500 reports of financial sextortion from minors, the public, and from online service providers, including Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.”

Lauren Coffren, executive director of the Exploited Children Division at NCMEC, said cases have “exploded over the past couple of years,” adding, “[The predators are] exploiting children’s worst nightmares.”

The FBI provided some tips for parents who want to protect their children online on their website:

  • 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.

Movieguide® previously reported on the dangerous rise of sextortion scams:

“Federal prosecutors and child safety advocates say they‘re seeing an upswing” in cases of sexual extortion and blackmail of teenagers on the Internet, according to the Associated Press.

The blackmailers have been demanding more sexually explicit photos and even sexual favors from teenagers who post less explicit photos of themselves on the Internet, in chatrooms or social meeting websites.

One federal affidavit labels the new crime “sextortion.”

Depictions of sex in the mass media has been directly linked to increases in teenage pregnancy, sexual crimes such as rape, pornography, the sex slave trade, sexually transmitted diseases, and serial murders.