DETROIT – The FBI in Detroit is warning of an increase in sextortion schemes targeting young boys.
The FBI’s Detroit Field Office has been getting reports of adults posing as young girls and coercing young boys through social media to send sexual images and videos. Once the images or videos are sent, the young boy is threatened to send money or the images will be released.
Sextortion begins over the internet and the criminal uses deception and manipulation to convince their victim to engage in explicit activity over video. That video is recorded by the predator. The predator then tells the victim they made videos and threatens to release the video unless the victim sends money.
Sextortion schemes can target anyone, including children. The coercion of a child by an adult to produce sexually explicit images (Child Sexual Abuse Material) can end in life sentences in prison for the offender if they are convicted.
Children have to come forward to someone, normally a parent, teacher, caregiver or law enforcement. Children may feel embarrassed and that could stop them from coming forward.
“The most effective way to stop these criminals is by preventing young people from becoming victims. We can do that through awareness, education, and having important—and sometimes difficult—conversations with the young people in our lives,” said Special Agent James A. Tarasca of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office. “We recognize victims may be hesitant to come forward and report these incidents. If you are a victim and don’t feel comfortable reporting directly to law enforcement, we encourage you to reach out to a trusted adult, who can help you. Your brave decision to come forward can not only help us identify the criminal but could also prevent another young person from being victimized.”
Michigan teen dies by suicide after being targeted by predator
Jordan John DeMay, 17, of Marquette Township died by suicide after an online predator released compromising images of the teen.
DeMay was targeted by a predator online posing as a girl. The predator persuaded DeMay to send compromising photos and videos of himself, then threatened to send them to his friends unless DeMay sent money.
DeMay sent $300, but the predator deemed it wasn’t enough. Just six hours after the initially threat, the photos were released and DeMay later died by suicide.
How to protect yourself, your children online
The FBI has shared the following tips to protect yourself and your children online.
- Be selective about what you share online, especially your personal information and passwords. If your social media accounts are open to everyone, a predator may be able to figure out a lot of information about you or your children.
- Be wary of anyone you encounter for the first time online. Block or ignore messages from strangers.
- Be aware people can pretend to be anything or anyone online. Videos and photos are not proof that a person is who they claim to be.
- Be suspicious if you meet someone on a game or app and they ask you to start talking to them on a different platform.
- Encourage your children to report suspicious behavior to a trusted adult.
If you are a victim of sextortion
- Do not delete anything before law enforcement is able to review it.
- Tell law enforcement everything about the encounters you had online; it may be embarrassing, but it is necessary to find the offender.
If you’d like to learn more about sextortion, you can click here.