FBI Columbia issues warning of internet sextortion schemes targeting kids

FBI Columbia issues warning of internet sextortion schemes targeting kids

COLOMBIA, SC (Wuloo) – The Columbia FBI is warning parents and guardians about a rise in incidents of sexual extortion nationwide involving children on the Internet. FBI agents say they have received a growing number of reports of adults posing as teenagers on social media and online gaming systems to coerce children into taking sexually explicit photos and videos and extort money from them. After receiving these photos and videos, investigators say the fraudster will threaten to post them online unless the victim sends him money.

The FBI says they believe cases of sextortion may be underreported because victims fear the consequences the predator threatened or how their parents would react.

“Victims of these crimes may be afraid to come forward, so it is important to have open discussions with your children about their online activities,” said Susan Ferencik, the special agent in charge of the Columbia FBI. “If you or a loved one is a victim of this crime, reporting may lead to the perpetrator being held accountable and preventing more victims.”

The FBI provides the following tips to help keep your children safe online:

  • Be selective in what you share online
  • Be wary of anyone you encounter on the internet for the first time and block messages from strangers
  • Know that anyone can pretend to be anything on the Internet
  • Be suspicious if someone you come across on a game platform or app wants to communicate on a different platform
  • Children should report any suspicious behavior to a trusted adult

Sexual extortion is a crime that officials say can face life in prison. If someone you know has been a victim of sexual extortion, call the FBI field office in Columbia at 803-551-4200 or go online to www.ic3.gov.

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