FBI Detroit Warns About Dangers of Sextortion
Chris Johnson, an assistant special agent in charge of the FBI Detroit Field Office, describes the dangers of sextortion.
Chris Johnson, assistant special agent in charge, FBI Detroit: I’d like to take a moment to talk about sextortion, a crime that affects children in communities across the state.
The FBI is seeing more and more cases involving sextortion, particularly of young kids, sometimes as young as 7 or 8 years old.
And too many parents think it can’t happen to my kid or it can’t happen in my community.
Sextortion begins when a predator reaches out to a young person over a game, app, or social media account.
Through deception, manipulation, money and gifts – or threats – the predator convinces the young person to produce an explicit video or image
When the young person starts to resist requests to make more images, the criminal will use threats of harm or exposure of the early images to pressure the child to continue producing content.
These predators are really good at targeting youth.
Young people don’t seem to have an on-guard mentality when it comes to strangers contacting them through the internet.
And many teens feel less inhibited about sharing online.
If a child or teen becomes the target of a sextortionist, they can feel scared, alone, embarrassed, anxious, and desperate.
Often, children and teens are so concerned they will get in trouble or lose their devices, that they are reluctant to come forward.
It’s important to remember a child who falls victim to sextortion is not the one in trouble.
Parents, you are the best first line of defense for your kids.
It’s up to you to develop an open, honest line of communication about what your child is doing online.
Start with some short conversations, and ask:
When you are online, has anyone you don’t know ever tried to contact you?
What would you do if they did?
Why do you think someone would want to talk to a kid online?
Why do you think adults sometimes pretend to be kids online?
Has anyone you know ever sent a picture of themselves that got passed around school?
What do you think can happen if you send a photo to someone – even a friend?
What if that picture were embarrassing?
If you need more information, check out the “stop sextortion” section on www.fbi.gov.
To report concerns about potential predators, call the FBI at 313-965-2323 or go online to tips.fbi.gov.
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