FBI Jacksonville Warns of Increase in Sextortion Schemes Targeting Boys
JACKSONVILLE, FL—The FBI Jacksonville Division is warning about an increase in reports of sextortion schemes targeting young males. Sextortion typically occurs when an adult contacts a minor via an online platform and coerces them into producing sexual images that are then used to extort the child into producing additional, often more graphic images. However, in recent months the FBI has received an increase in reports of adults who are posing as young girls and coercing teen boys into conducting sexual activity on video. The predators are secretly recording the video, and then demanding payment from the teens to prevent the release of the content to the public.
Sextortion in any form is a crime. The coercion of a child by an adult to produce Child Sexual Abuse Material (C-SAM) carries heavy penalties, up to and including life in prison. Unfortunately, because many sextortion victims are embarrassed, their abuse goes unreported, and they continue to be victimized for extended periods of time. Likewise, sextortion offenders who are not reported may eventually target hundreds of victims around the world.
“The most effective way to combat sextortion is by having proactive discussions with your children about their online safety,” said Supervisory Special Agent C.J. Goodman, who oversees FBI Jacksonville’s investigations into crimes against local children. “We recognize victims may be hesitant to come forward, but we strongly encourage them to notify a trusted adult and law enforcement so we can help stop the abuse, hold these predators accountable, and prevent them from harming others.”
The FBI provides the following tips to protect children online:
- Be selective about what you share online, especially your personal information.
- Be wary of anyone you encounter online for the first time. Block messages from strangers.
- Be aware that people can pretend to be anyone online. Videos and photos are not always proof.
- Be suspicious if you meet someone on a game or app and they ask you to chat on another platform.
If you believe you or someone you know is the victim of sextortion:
- Contact local law enforcement, FBI Jacksonville at 904-248-7000 or tips.fbi.gov, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.ic3.gov, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST/Cybertipline.org.
- Do not delete anything before law enforcement is able to review it.
- Tell law enforcement everything about the encounters; it may be embarrassing, but necessary.
In 2021, the IC3 received over 18,000 sextortion-related complaints, with losses over $13.6 million. This number reflects all types of sextortion reported, not one specific version. More information about sextortion can be found at www.fbi.gov/sextortion.