Sextortion: A Growing Threat Targeting Minors
Offenders Deceive and Manipulate Victims to Create Sexually Explicit Material for Extortion Purposes
[SAN FRANCISCO]— The FBI wants to warn parents, educators, caregivers, and children about the dangers of online activity that may lead to the solicitation and enticement of a minor to engage in sexual acts.
Sextortion involves an offender coercing a minor to create and send sexually explicit images or videos. An offender gets sexually explicit material from the child and then threatens to release that compromising material unless the victim produces more. These offenders are seeking sexual gratification.
Financially motivated sextortion is a criminal act that involves an offender coercing a minor to create and send sexually explicit material. Offenders threaten to release that compromising material unless they receive payment, which is often requested in gift cards, mobile payment services, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency. These offenders are motivated by financial gain, not necessarily just sexual gratification.
Victims are typically males between the ages of 14 to 17, but any child can become a victim. For financially motivated sextortion, offenders are usually located outside the United States and primarily in West African countries such as Nigeria and Ivory Coast, or Southeast Asian countries such as the Philippines.
These crimes can lead victims to self-harm and have led to suicide. From October 2021 to March 2023, the FBI and Homeland Security Investigations received over 13,000 reports of online financial sextortion of minors. The sextortion involved at least 12,600 victims—primarily boys—and led to at least 20 suicides.
In the six-month period from October 2022 to March 2023, the FBI observed at least a 20% increase in reporting of financially motivated sextortion incidents involving minor victims compared to the same time period the previous year.
“We’ve seen an alarming increase in financial sextortion schemes targeting children not only in the Bay Area, but across the country. Parents, educators, and caregivers need to be aware of this increasingly urgent threat and empower victims to come forward,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Tripp.
If you or someone you know believes that they are a victim of sextortion or financially motivated sextortion, immediately report the activity to law enforcement. You can report it to the FBI by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI or visiting tips.fbi.gov.
For more information on sextortion and financial sextortion, visit the FBI’s resources on the threats at: https://www.fbi.gov/sextortion and https://www.fbi.gov/how-we-can-help-you/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/sextortion/financially-motivated-sextortion.