FBI St. Louis
St. Louis Press Office
(314) 589-2500
April 15, 2022

FBI Warns of Increase in Sextortion Targeting Teenaged Boys

ST. LOUIS—The FBI St. Louis Division is warning parents and guardians about an increase in sextortion of young children locally and across the country. Sextortion is not new, but it is increasing at a concerning rate, especially against teenaged boys.

In a scheme that has recently become more prevalent, the offender poses as a young female and makes initial contact through an online platform (e.g., social media accounts, games, or apps) and then asks to switch to a video platform. The predator convinces the young male, usually 14 to 17 years old, to engage in explicit activity over video. The predator secretly records the video and then reveals it to extort the victim for money to prevent them from being posted online.

To stop the victimization, children typically have to report it—normally to a parent, teacher, caregiver, or law enforcement. Embarrassment typically prevents victims from coming forward. Sextortion offenders may have hundreds of victims around the world, so coming forward to help law enforcement identify the offender may prevent countless others from being victimized.

Sextortion is a crime. The coercion of a child by an adult to produce what is considered Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) carries heavy penalties, which can include up to life sentences for the offender. “I want to stress the importance of parents discussing online safety with their children. The children who have been targeted are the victims and need to be reminded they are not in trouble with the law,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Akil Davis of the FBI St. Louis Division. “As with many crimes where people are manipulated and fall prey, perpetrators are relying on the victim to be embarrassed and not report it.”

If you or someone you know is the victim of sextortion:

  1. Report it:
    • Local FBI (find offices at www.fbi.gov)
    • FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov
    • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (1-800-the-lost or Cybertipline.org)
  2. Do not delete anything before law enforcement reviews it.
  3. Tell law enforcement everything about the online encounters to help them find the offender.

More about sextortion: https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/stop-sextortion-youth-face-risk-online-090319.

The FBI’s partner at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has step-by-step instructions on how to remove explicit content from more than a dozen online platforms: https://www.missingkids.org/gethelpnow/isyourexplicitcontentoutthere?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=National+Child+Abuse+Prevention+Month&utm_term=&utm_content=