ATLANTA, Ga. (WRBL) –The Atlanta Division of the FBI is warning parents, guardians, and teens about rising sextortion crimes across the nation.
According to the FBI, the agency is receiving an increasing number of reports regarding adults pretending to be young girls to coerce teenage boys through social media to create sexual images and videos, then extorting money from the male victims.
In total, FBI Atlanta received 50 reports of sextortion victims throughout Georgia in 2022 compared to 21 reports in 2021. According to the FBI, sextortion begins when an adult communicates with a minor online.
A more prevalent scheme used by offenders is through the predator posing as a young girl and deceiving minor male victims to engage in explicit activity on video, which is recorded secretly by the predator.
The predators then reveal the secretly recorded footage to the minor victim to extort money and threaten the victim to pay, or the footage will be posted online.
Additionally, the FBI explains that an adult’s coercion of a child to create “Child Sexual Abuse Material” can result in heavy penalties, including lifetime sentencing for the offenders.
To combat victimization, the agency encourages children to tell someone such as a parent, teacher, caregiver, or law enforcement. The FBI says, although it may be uncomfortable to come forward to help authorities identify the offender, it can possibly prevent countless other incidents of exploitation to the victims and others.
The FBI provided the following tips below to protect you and your children online:
- 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 children to report suspicious behavior to a trusted adult.
Furthermore, if you believe you or someone you know is the victim of sextortion:
- Contact local law enforcement or the FBI at tips.fbi.gov or the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.ic3.gov.
- Do not delete anything on your device before law enforcement is able to review it.
- 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.