HOUSTON – The FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children have released a new, joint public service announcement about sextortion on Wednesday, in which Director Wray and the president/CEO of NCMEC break down the threat and provide tips for keeping children safe from this risk.
Authorities in the video said sextortion has led to some children committing suicide as a result of this targeting.
The video can be found on the FBI and FBI Houston’s Twitter accounts.
Sextortion is a type of online blackmail in which adults coerce kids and teens into sharing explicit photos of themselves. Watch this PSA from the leaders of the #FBI and @MissingKids to learn how to protect the young people in your life from this threat. https://t.co/61NhfFUOZq pic.twitter.com/WhA9daRSyF— FBI (@FBI) June 29, 2022
The FBI said it has seen a huge increase in the number of cases involving children and teens being threatened and coerced by adults into sending explicit images online—a crime called sextortion.
Sextortion can start on any site, app, or game where people meet and communicate. In some cases, the first contact from the criminal will be a threat. The person may claim to already have a revealing picture or video of a child that will be shared if the victim does not send more pictures. More often, however, this crime starts when young people believe they are communicating with someone their own age who is interested in a relationship or with someone who is offering something of value. The adult will use threats, gifts, money, flattery, lies, or other methods to get a young person to produce an image.
After the criminals have one or more videos or pictures, they threaten to share publish that content, or they threaten violence, to get the victim to produce more images. The shame, fear, and confusion children feel when they are caught in this cycle often prevents them from asking for help or reporting the abuse. Caregivers and young people should understand how the crime occurs and openly discuss online safety.