The FBI is warning parents and caregivers in Illinois of an increase in incidents of adults posing as girls coercing boys on social media and extorting money from them.
The FBI says “sextortion” begins when an adult contacts a minor on any online platform used to meet and communicate, such as a game, app, or social media account.
In a pattern that has recently become more prevalent, the predator, who usually impersonates a young girl, uses deception and manipulation to convince a young man, usually between the ages of 14 and 17, to engage in an explicit activity. by video, which is secretly recorded. by the predator.
The predator then reveals that he made the recordings and attempts to extort money from the victim to prevent the video or photos from being uploaded.
Sextortion is a crime and the coercion of a child by an adult to produce what is considered sexual abuse material carries severe penalties, up to life imprisonment for the offender.
The FBI says children usually have to report to someone, such as a parent, teacher, caregiver, or law enforcement.
However, the embarrassment children feel about the activity they have been forced to engage in is what usually keeps them from coming forward.
Sextortionists can have hundreds of victims around the world, so coming forward to help law enforcement identify the perpetrator can prevent countless more incidents of sexual exploitation of that victim and others. the FBI said.
The FBI says parents should make sure their children are selective about what they share online, especially personal information and passwords.
Anyone who is a victim of sextortion should contact their local FBI office, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
In 2021, IC3 received more than 18,000 sextortion-related complaints with losses of more than $13.6 million, officials said. “This number reflects all reported types of sextortion, not just this particular pattern.”