What is Sextortion? Sextortion is a form of exploitation where children are threatened or blackmailed by a person who demands additional sexual content, sexual activity or money from the child. The scammer will threaten the child with the possibility of sharing nude or sexual images of them with their family, friends and the public.
It starts like this: A teen receives a message from a pretty girl on a social media or dating site. The two begin to talk and eventually share explicit photos. Unbeknownst to the teen, the person on the other side of the chat is not a pretty girl at all. Its a scam artist who has recorded their entire conversation, explicit photos and all, and is now blackmailing the teen for more photos or money. In most recent cases, scammers requested money rather than additional explicit photos.
Sextortion is more common than you think.
Who are they targeting? 13-17 year old boys are the most common target. Usually those involved in sports and athletic clubs.
How are they doing this? Through a DM, or direct message, on social media apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Once the scammer has started the conversation, they encourage the victim to move to an anonymous messaging app or a live-stream video chat where they begin to coerce the child into providing sexual content. In the majority of cases, this entire interaction occurs within a day, sometimes within hours.
Talk Now: The start of the school year is an important time to raise awareness of this issue in your household. But it doesn't end there, ongoing conversations are essential, so your teen remains vigilant of this crime.
For Parents: What should you say?
- Explain what information should never be shared on social media
- Remind your kids that they should never accept a friend request or respond to someone they don't know in real life, even if they have friends in common online
- Teach them how to block and report people on social media sites
- Warn them of the risk of sharing inappropriate photos
- Most importantly, remind your kids that they can always come to you for help
Take It Down: The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's Take It Down service helps remove and stop the online sharing of explicit photos and videos taken before someone was adult.
Report It: If someone you know is a victim of sextortion, save any evidence including messages, call 911, and report it to the National CyberTipline. Your report can prevent this from happening to someone else!