Teen boys growing target of online “sextortion” blackmailing schemes, FBI says | #phishing | #scams

The FBI is noticing a recent uptick in reports of adults posing as girls to receive sexual images of boys and then blackmailing them for money.

It’s a growing victim subset of a scheme the feds call “sextortion,” or using compromising images and videos obtained online to extort the victim. In total, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3, received 18,000 sextortion-related complaints last year, totalling more than $13.6 million in losses.

“Predators who ask for sexually explicit photos, videos, and then money to terrorize young victims with threats of posting their images online are incredibly disturbing, and on our radar,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston office in a statement.

He added that “to spare children of the shame, fear, and confusion they feel when this happens, we’re asking parents and caregivers to talk to their children now about their online safety, and the importance of speaking up to prevent further victimization.”

The FBI says that adults are posing as girls in anonymous accounts online, from gaming to social media, and using these fake personas to deceive boys into showing themselves naked and in a sexual manner, which the predator secretly records. The perp then tells the kid that the recordings will be posted online unless they hand over money.

It’s a crime that FBI offices across the country are sounding the alarm on, with press releases from field offices dating back at least to one issued by the Washington D.C. location on March 24.

When contacted, the FBI’s Boston office wasn’t immediately aware of, or unable to provide information on, any ongoing investigations related to sexploitation in the Boston area. But a quick dig into the Department of Justice and FBI releases in recent years shows a growing number of “sextortion” cases elsewhere.

A former substitute teacher and paraprofessional in Minnesota, Mitchell Ottinger, 25, was sentenced to 40 years in prison Monday for what the feds called a “years-long sextortion scheme” that exploited 42 people, including at least 23 children.

Closer to home — but not involving minor victims — a graduate student at the University of Georgia, Gary E. Leach, then-24, pleaded guilty in federal court in Boston in December to cyberstalking and extortion through interstate threats.

The feds say that from October 2019 until his arrest last April, Leach used anonymous Instagram accounts to request sexual videos and photos from a Boston-area woman that he promised to pay for, but actually recorded and threatened to share them with her family unless she continued to send him sexual content. They say he did the same to other women.

The FBI says that anyone who feels they or someone they know is being sexually exploited should find contact information for their local FBI field office at FBI.gov, contact the IC3 at IC3.gov or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST or Cybertipline.org. Do not delete any evidence before law enforcement has a chance to review it.

Original Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

8 + one =