What is Sextortion?

An FBI special agent defines sextortion and provides tips to avoid falling prey to online predators.


Video Transcript

Various people: What is sextortion?

Sextortion? Um...extortion related to sex-related crimes?

Sex for... not for money.

Do favors for sex, which makes me think it’s the new word for sexual harassment?

So the question is what is sextortion. I’ve never heard of that word before.

What is sextortion? Somebody kind of blackmailing somebody for sexual favors?

Sextortion to me would be someone who is forced against their will to perform sexual acts? Or blackmailing them for sexual favors?

Special Agent: Sextortion is a serious crime that occurs when someone threatens to distribute your private and sensitive material if you don’t provide them images of a sexual nature, sexual favors, or money.

The perpetrator may also threaten to harm your friends or relatives by using information they have obtained from your electronic devices unless you comply with their demands.

I am a special agent with the FBI, and I investigate violent crimes against children.

I want you to know that sextortion can have devastating effects on young victims from all walks of life, and it is easy to become a victim.

Online perpetrators might gain your trust by pretending to be someone they are not.

They lurk in chat rooms and record young people who post or live-stream sexually explicit images and videos of themselves, or they may hack into your electronic devices using malware to gain access to your files and control your web camera and microphone without you knowing it.

Here are some things you can do to avoid becoming a victim:

Never send compromising images of yourself to anyone, no matter who they are—or who they say they are.
Do not open attachments from people you do not know.
Turn off your electronic devices and web cameras when you are not using them.
If you are receiving sextortion threats, you are not alone.

It is likely the perpetrator is an adult pretending to be a teenager, and you are just one of the many victims being targeted by the same person.

Do not be afraid to talk to an adult and to call the FBI.

Help us find these criminals and stop them from damaging young lives.

If you believe you’re a victim of sextortion, or know someone else who is, call your local FBI office or toll-free at 1-800-CALL-FBI.

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