FBI: Sextortion Targets Boys

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Sextortion disproportionately affects boys.

Between October 2021 & March 2023, the FBI & Homeland Security Investigation received more than 13,000 reports of online sextortion of minors. Most of the victims were boys. At least 20 boys have already died by suicide after experiencing sextortion.

The FBI is so concerned about these trends that they reached out to ON BOYS podcast. Agents are working to shutdown sextorionists, but they know that parents play a key role in keeping boys safe too.

“This trend of targeting boys for financial sextortion — where photos are taken or provided by the boy and then used to extort them for funds, under the impression that they will be shared online — is a scheme that seems to have emerged in the last few years,” says Chris Crocker, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI St. Louis division.

Protecting Boys From Sextortion

Boys ages 14-17 seem to be the primary targets. Sextortionists connect with boys via online platforms (including gaming sites and social media; they often represent themselves as attractive teenage girls, show a lot of interest, perhaps share a sexy photo of “themselves,” and then ask the boy to reciprocate. When he does, they threaten to share the image unless the boy sends them money.

“The boys we’ve seen fall for these schemes are not dumb kids. They’re not kids that were necessarily obviously at any sort of risk. They’re good kids, good students, athletes, model kids, the kind of boys you would want your son to grow up to be,” Chris says. “These are not bad kids; these are good kids who make poor decisions. Every person is susceptible to doing that from time to time.”

Talk to your boys about sextortion, so they will talk to you if it occurs to them (or a friend). Make sure they know that you will help them, not yell at them or punish them.

“It is very important for parents to constantly reassure their children that they can come to them with something like this. Building that trust with your child is really important to avoiding these things – maybe not from occurring ever, but from reaching the worst possible outcome,” Chris says.”This is a really complex issue and there’s no easy way to handle it, but spreading awareness will prevent more of these outcomes.”

Chris Crocker, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI St. Louis Division

To Report Sextortion:

To contact the FBI, dial 1-800-CALL-FBI or use tips.fbi.gov to provide information online.

The FBI’s partner at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children provides guidance on how to remove nude photos online that were taken before a person was 18 years old: https://takeitdown.ncmec.org/

In this episode, Jen, Janet, & Chris discuss:
  • What sextortion is
  • Why boys are often victims
  • How to talk to boys about sextortion
  • What to do if someone is experiencing sextortion
  • What happens when your report sextortion
  • What social media sites are doing to combat sextortion
Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:

Sextortion: A Growing Threat Preying on Our Nation’s Teens

A Teen’s Death in a Small Michigan Town Led the FBI & Police to an Online Sexual Extortion Scheme

This Boy’s Story Highlights Why Instagram’s Taking a New Stance on DMs

Instagram to Crack Down on Teen Sextortion

Maggie Dent: What Teenage Boys Really Need — ON BOYS episode

Talk with Boys Like a PRO (about anything & everything!) — Jen & Janet’s upcoming course (starts May 7, 2024)

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