Home FBI issues warning to parents, educators, children about sextortion danger
Public Safety, US & World

FBI issues warning to parents, educators, children about sextortion danger

Chris Graham
(© Oleksandr – stock.adobe.com)

The FBI has issued a warning about the dangers of online activity that can lead to sextortion – the solicitation and enticement of a minor to engage in sexual acts.

Sextortion involves an offender coercing a minor to create and send sexually explicit images or video. An offender gets sexually explicit material from the child, then threatens to release that compromising material unless the victim produces more. These offenders are seeking sexual gratification.

“We’re seeing an alarming increase in both sextortion and financial sextortion across the U.S. and continuing to see some of that activity here in Hampton Roads,” said Brian Dugan, the Special Agent in Charge Brian Dugan of the FBI Norfolk’s Field Office. “One of the best lines of defense to stopping a crime like this is to educate our most vulnerable on common warning signs, as well as empowering them to come forward if they are ever victimized.”

In Hampton Roads, there were at least 14 reports of sextortion and financial sextortion involving children last year, according to FBI data.

Financially motivated sextortion is a criminal act that involves an offender coercing a minor to create and send sexually explicit material. Offenders threaten to release that compromising material unless they receive payment, which is often requested in gift cards, mobile payment services, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency. These offenders are motivated by financial gain, not necessarily just sexual gratification.

Victims are typically males between the ages of 14-17, but any child can become a victim. For financially motivated sextortion, offenders are usually located outside the United States and primarily in West African countries such as Nigeria and Ivory Coast, or Southeast Asian countries such as the Philippines.

These crimes can lead victims to self-harm and have led to suicide. From October 2021 to March 2023, the FBI and Homeland Security Investigations received over 13,000 reports of online financial sextortion of minors. The sextortion involved at least 12,600 victims—primarily boys—and led to at least 20 suicides.

In the six-month period from October 2022 to March 2023, the FBI observed at least a 20 percent increase in reporting of financially motivated sextortion incidents involving minor victims compared to the same time period the previous year.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].