CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WGHP) — More and more teenagers in North Carolina are falling prey to “sextortion” schemes, according to FBI Charlotte.
On Tuesday, FBI Charlotte issued a warning alerting parents and guardians that the agency has seen a rise in the number of “sextortion” crimes across the country. The targets are usually between the ages of 14 and 17.
Adults pretending to be young girls coerce teenage boys to send sexual images and videos over social media. The culprits then threaten to post the photos or videos online unless the victim sends money.
So far in 2022, FBI Charlotte has received 29 reports of sextortion. Out of those 29 cases, 23 cases involved criminals demanding money from mostly male victims.
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Any young victims of sextortion are asked to tell a parent, teacher, caregiver or law enforcement. The FBI says that they understand that coming forward can be embarrassing but it can help investigators find the culprits and prevent countless others from being victimized.
Culprits could face up to a life sentence for sextortion involving child sexual abuse material.
“The FBI will not tolerate online predators targeting our children,” said FBI Charlotte Special Agent in Charge Robert R. Wells. “We will continue to work with our state and local partners to protect our children from sextortion crimes and hold these criminals accountable. This also highlights the importance of parents regularly engaging with their children regarding social media activity. Children must understand they cannot trust someone online who they’ve never met in person.”
The FBI released the following tips to avoid cases like these:
- 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.