LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The FBI has noticed an increase in sextortion schemes targeting minors aged 13 to 17, specifically in southern Arkansas cities such as El Dorado, Magnolia and Monticello.
According to the FBI, sextortion is when a predator poses as a child and coerces minors into sending sexual videos for the predator to then secretly save or record them, and threaten to post the videos if they don't receive a sum of money.
To get the money, the criminal may ask for bank account login information or request gift cards from the minors.
The FBI said the embarrassment minors feel can prevent them from coming forward with being victims of a crime.
"Sextortion offenders frequently have dozens of victims around the world, so coming forward to help law enforcement identify a predator may prevent countless future incidents of sexual exploitation," The FBI said in the statement.
Here are some tips to protect children online given by the FBI:
- Everyone should be wary of anyone they encounter online. Block or ignore messages from strangers.
- People can pretend to be anyone online. Videos and photos are not proof that a person is who they claim
- to be.
- Be highly suspicious if someone you meet on a game or app asks you to start communicating with them on a different platform.
- Encourage children to report suspicious behavior to a trusted adult.
If you know someone who may be a victim of sextortion in Arkansas:
- Contact FBI Little Rock at 501-221-9100 or FBI New Orleans at 504-816-3000.
- Do not delete anything before law enforcement is able to review it.
- Tell police investigators everything about the online encounters. It may be embarrassing, but it is necessary to find and stop the predator.
(Note: The attached video is a report from April 2022.)