Teens are targets of 'sextortion,' FBI warns - Albuquerque Journal

Teens are targets of ‘sextortion,’ FBI warns

The FBI and a national parents’ group are warning of an alarming rise in sextortion cases in which a predator cons the victim, usually a teen or young person, into engaging in explicit activity on social media.

Predators ask victims to record the activity and send them the images, which are used to generate more sexual material and to extort money or other things of value. They also may ask to share the victim’s account in exchange for not posting the compromising material online.

“Few crimes are as damaging and traumatic to a young person as sextortion,” says Raul Bujanda, Albuquerque FBI Special Agent in Charge. “Victims may feel embarrassed and be reluctant to come forward. They and their parents or guardians need to know it’s not their fault. The only way we are going to catch these perpetrators and keep them from harming others is for their victims to contact us.”

The local FBI received 107 reports of the crime between January and May of this year. The figure for the same period last year was 44.

That huge increase reinforces “the need for parents, guardians and teenagers to be aware of this growing online danger,” the FBI said earlier this year.

The nonprofit Parents Together Action, a national parenting group, sent out a warning this month about dramatic increases across the country, saying that online scammers often pose as underage kids so they can befriend or start romantic relationships with the victims.

The majority of victims are between 14 and 17, and are of all genders and sexual orientation. Although single predators often have numerous victims, they often have “evaded law enforcement attention due to the stigma many teens attach to reporting their victimization.”

Stalkers find their prey through game apps like Roblox, messaging apps like Whatsapp or social media apps like Facebook and Instagram.

“Victims can often feel like they have nowhere to turn for help, including their parents, resulting in serious physical and mental consequences,” the parenting group said.

The FBI says there are heavy penalties, including prison terms of up to life, for those convicted of coercing a young person to produce “child sexual abuse material.”

However, going after the offender typically requires the victim to inform someone, such as a parent, teacher, caregiver or law enforcement, the FBI says.

The agency asks that anyone who is a victim or who has information should contact the FBI at 1-800-225-5324 or tips.fbi.gov.

Here’s what to know, according to the FBI and Parents Together Action:

• Talk to your kids about the risks of sextortion, and instruct them on how to avoid sextortion scams and other online dangers. They should know that a stranger they meet online may try to harm them.

• Tell them not to accept friend requests from people they don’t know, and that, just like in the physical world, contact with strangers can be a threat and should be avoided.

• Set parental controls for every app and platform used by your kids, especially apps with chat functions.

• Keep the evidence and tell the authorities: If a scammer has asked your child for sexual images or is threatened online, save all images and communications between them.

• Check your child’s social media history and profile regularly and monitor posts. Doing so regularly will help keep you better informed about what they do online, how they use the platforms and who they communicate with.

Contact Ellen Marks at emarks@abqjournal.com or 505-823-3805 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the New Mexico Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-844-255-9210, prompt 5. Complaints can be filed electronically at http://nmag.gov/file-a-complaint.aspx.

Home » From the newspaper » Teens are targets of ‘sextortion,’ FBI warns


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Jemez Pueblo native starts a business focused on healthy ...
Columnists
I'm not a vegetarian, much less ... I'm not a vegetarian, much less a vegan, so talking about food in those terms is a bit like le ...
2
GivingTuesday: Every act of generosity counts
Columnists
GivingTuesday is a global movement unleashing ... GivingTuesday is a global movement unleashing the power of radical generosity. GivingTuesday was cre ...
3
Using third-party hotel booking sites can cost you
Columnists
Book directly with a hotel to ... Book directly with a hotel to avoid possibility of getting charged twice
4
Journal Cartoonist John Trever's recent work
Columnists
John Trever tackles Albuquerque and New ... John Trever tackles Albuquerque and New Mexico issues with his signature cartoons this and every Sunday.
5
Credibility is 'our currency. That's really all we have.'
Columnists
The Albuquerque Journal's freelance policy, last ... The Albuquerque Journal's freelance policy, last updated and distributed to all newsroom staff ...
6
'Voice of the Journal' for decades had a passion ...
ABQnews Seeker
Ex-columnist also had a knack of ... Ex-columnist also had a knack of making his readers laugh
7
Donate items to get them a new life rather ...
Columnists
Are you downsizing? Children moved out? ... Are you downsizing? Children moved out? Parents moving to other living arrangements? Or are you just ...
8
FBI fights cyberattacks, ransomware scams
Columnists
New Mexico generally follows nationwide trends ... New Mexico generally follows nationwide trends when it comes to destructive ransomware attacks, but ...
9
Hispanic Heritage fills up a New Mexico year
Columnists
Our minority-majority state overflows with contributions ... Our minority-majority state overflows with contributions from 'invisible' ethnicity