Financially Motivated Sextortion 

Your teenager just met a new friend online.

The conversation starts with, "Hey, I love gaming, too. Let's chat," and escalates to a request for sexually explicit pictures. Your son complies. Then the predator demands money or they'll release the photos.

It's a crime called financially motivated sextortion—and it can happen to anyone.

Financial sextortion is a crime. But it's not your fault. And you can get home. Report it to


When predators pose as someone else online to coerce victims into taking and sending sexually explicit photos and videos—and then immediately demand payment or threaten to release the photo to the victim’s family and friends—it's known as financially motivated sextortion.

Financially motivated sextortion is a crime. Parents, educators, caregivers, and young persons should be aware of how to stay safe online, the risks and warning signs, and how to report if you or someone you know is a victim. 


  • Victims are typically males between the ages of 14 to 17, but any child can become a victim.
  • There have been an alarming number of suicides identified in male victims of financially motivated sextortion schemes.
  • Victims often feel alone, embarrassed, and afraid to seek help. But it’s important for victims to understand they are not alone. If you're feeling threatened, ask a trusted adult for help.

What do I do if my child or someone I know is being exploited? 

Contact your local FBI field office, call 1-800-CALL-FBI, or report it online at if you, your child, or someone you know is being exploited.

Remember: You are not alone, and this is not your fault. 

Anyone being exploited should also:

  • Report the predator’s account via the platform’s safety feature.
  • Block the predator from contacting you.
  • Save the profile or messages; those can help law enforcement identify and stop the predator.
  • Ask for help from a trusted adult or law enforcement before sending money or more images. Cooperating with the predator rarely stops the blackmail and harassment—but law enforcement can.

Victim Resources 

The FBI has staff dedicated to assisting crime victims.

Learn more about our Victim Services Division and know your rights if you are a victim of sextortion and your images have been posted online. "Trust that there is support and a path forward."

Financially Motivated Sextortion Schemes 

A financially motivated sextortion scenario can happen quickly—sometimes in just five minutes. Learn more about how these schemes work, what to look for, and what to do if you're a victim.

Who commits financially motivated sextortion and why?

  • Predators are usually located outside the United States, primarily in West African countries (such as Nigeria and Ivory Coast) or Southeast Asian countries (such as the Philippines).
  • Predators are motivated by financial gain. They will request money transfers, gift cards, and even cryptocurrency.

How does a predator target a victim?

  • Predators identify and target children through social media platforms, online games, gaming consoles, livestreaming and video platforms, and messaging apps.
  • Predators often pretend to relate to victims, whether that's pretending to be their age, have similar interests, or live in the same area. They easily misrepresent themselves online to appear to be friendly and age-appropriate. 
  • Predators may target several boys who appear to know each other.

What does a predator's profile look like?

  • Predators typically create profiles that look like they belong to teenage girls.
  • Predator accounts may have very few followers and look new.
  • In some cases, predators might follow other people you/your child know.
  • Predators sometimes hack legitimate accounts known to victims, or they may create “copycat” accounts to appear as if they're someone the victim already knows.

What happens after a predator identifies a potential victim?

  • Predators often ask victims to switch to a platform that lets them video call. Then, predators ask children to send sexually explicit images and videos and/or engage in sexually explicit activities via video call, then they capture that material without the victims’ knowledge. 
  • In some cases, predators will promise to send sexually explicit material back, or they will send sexually explicit material to encourage their victim to do the same.
  • Predators begin extorting their victims immediately after receiving a sexually explicit image. They threaten to send the image to family, friends, social media followers, schools, and elsewhere unless the child pays money in some form. As part of the threat, predators sometimes send screenshots showing the child’s social media followers, friends, and family.
  • Additionally, predators sometimes create images to elicit a response from the child, like:
    • A fake news headline about the arrest of the child
    • A collage containing sexually explicit material and identifying information
    • A draft of a social media post that would distribute the sexually explicit material
  • Predators demand various forms of payment, including gift cards—both e-gift cards and codes from physical cards—mobile payment services, wire transfers, and cryptocurrency.
  • Predators sometimes distribute the images even if the child pays.

But what if a child hasn't sent the predator anything?

  • Even if a child doesn't produce sexually explicit material, predators will sometimes create one to try to extort the child. The predator manipulates the child into video calling or sending a photo of their face—and then, using editing software—combines that image with an explicit image they found online.

Additional Resources