MIAMI – A South Florida law enforcement agency is warning parents about sextortion, a crime that threatens primarily teen boys.
On Tuesday, the Broward Sheriff’s Office posted on their website the warning to parents.
“Sextortion works like this – a teenage boy receives a message on a social media or gaming app from an individual who appears to be a teenage girl. The girl pretends to have a romantic interest in the boy, and a relationship is cultivated. At some point, the “girl” sends a sexually suggestive photo to the boy and asks for one in return. The boy complies, and financial sextortion begins. The “girl” is now unmasked and shown to be a blackmailer who extorts the boy for money, gift cards, or other forms of payment in order to prevent explicit images from being shared online with the boy’s family and friends.”
Authorities say that in some cases, the shame and guilt of having been tricked is so that it leads the minor to self-harm or worse.
Many financial sextortion crimes originate overseas, investigators said.
BSO wants teens to know the following:
• Never send a sexually suggestive or explicit photo or video to anyone. Once you share that material, you no longer have control of it.
• Beware of strangers you meet online. They may not be who they claim to be in their online photos or profile.
• Never share personal information online.
• If you become a victim of sextortion or financial sextortion, immediately tell a trusted adult and contact law enforcement. Reporting it to law enables enforcement investigators to pursue the perpetrators.
• If you are victimized, stop responding, take screenshots of all communications, and report and block the user on the social media or gaming platform. Also, don’t send more images and don’t pay any money.
• Remember that there is HELP for you. Resources are available. You do not have to endure this alone.
Here’s what parents should know:
• Be familiar with sextortion and financial sextortion and talk to your children about how and when these crimes occurred and how to respond if it happened to them.
• Be aware of what your children are doing online. Know the social media and gaming apps they’re using and know their passwords.
• Check your child’s online and social media activity.
• Put limits on your child’s screen time.
• Don’t let your children have or use electronic devices in their bedrooms. Keep electronic devices in common areas of your home.
• Ask questions and create a trusting environment where your child will feel comfortable talking to you about issues they encounter online or on social media.
If you are a victim of sextortion, you are urged to call for law enforcement.
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