FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Forsyth County Sherriff’s Office is warning teens and parents to beware of “sextortion scams” after the recent increase of reports in the area.
The sheriff’s office said the most recent victim of a sextortion crime is a juvenile in Winston Salem.
“Here recently, it’s become more prevalent to become just some random person reaching out to random people to victimize, as supposed to somebody that they know,” said Corporal D. Ammons, Forsyth County Sherriff’s Office.
Sextortion is when an adult engages in casual conversation with an underage child and gains trust through text. Eventually, the scammer will ask for pictures, videos or pretend to have seen some of the victim. They will then blackmail or threaten to expose nudes or suggestive images for sexual favors or money— through gift cards or online payments.
“They will cave to that and send something. Once the other person receives that image, then they’ll start demanding money, or otherwise, they’re going to start sending this out to everybody the victim knows,” said Ammons.
Corporal Ammons said the moment you sense a red flag of your child falling victim to sextortion, call the police.
“If you do and you realize that someone that somebody is trying to take advantage of you or threatening to send those images out. Right, there is when you the moment to call us,” said Ammons.
John Van Arnam, Founder of The Third Talk, said this is not a new crime, it’s just becoming apparent to parents that teens are falling victims to it.
“We as adults are just becoming comfortable enough with the understanding that this is happening to all of our children,” said Van Arnam.
Van Arnam said to talk to your teens, have open communication and listen to them about what’s going on in the social media world to help protect them more.
“We used to say that it was 94% of boys and 68% of girls in 2016. We can now really say that this is happening to all of our children across the board,” said Van Arnam.
Van Arnam said the traumatic experience of falling victim could potentially leave your child with fear—anxiety and depression.
“The best way to get that is communication with the parents, counseling can help and the removal of shame and blame from the equation,” said Van Arnam.
Both experts said the best way to decrease sextortion is to check on your children, talk with them about the dangers of the internet and talking to people they don’t know.