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FBI Las Vegas warns of increase in sextortion schemes targeting young boys

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Published: May. 5, 2022 at 9:01 AM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - The FBI Las Vegas Field Office is warning of an increase in sextortion schemes targeting young boys.

According to a news release, the agency is receiving an increase number of reports of adults posing as young girls coercing boys through social media to produce sexual images and videos, and then extorting money from the victims.

The FBI states that “sextortion begins when an adult contacts a minor over any online platform used to meet and communicate, such as a game, app, or social media account. In a scheme that has recently become more prevalent, the predator (posing as a young girl) 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 predator.” Authorities say that the predator then reveals that they made recordings and attempts to extort the victim for money in order to prevent the footage from being posted online.

The FBI warns that sextortion is a crime, and the coercion of a child by an adult to produce what is considered Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) carries strong penalties, which can include up to life sentences for the offender.

“The most effective way to disrupt these criminals is through awareness, education, and having important discussions with your children about their online safety,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge W. Mike Herrington “Frightening young victims through social media and using the anonymity of the Internet to hide will never be tolerated by the FBI. Parents, please talk to your children about the dangers of the Internet and social media and make it clear to them that they are not to blame if they fall victim to a predator. The FBI, along with our law enforcement partners are dedicated to ensuring children are protected from online predators.”

The FBI provided the below tips for parents and caregivers:

Tips 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 your children to report suspicious behavior to a trusted adult.

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

  • Contact your local FBI field office (contact information can be found at www.fbi.gov), the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.ic3.gov, or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (1-800-the-lost or Cybertipline.org).
  • Do not delete anything 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.