In the first three months of this year, eight sextortion scams (online blackmail using nude images) have been reported to Erie Police; double the same period last year. Public Information Officer Amber Luttrell notes “sextortion scams concern law enforcement because victims feel pressured to give in to demands, experience shame, and are reluctant to make reports.”
What To Know
- In recent cases, victims have been juvenile males enticed by a blossoming relationship that is soon met with sexual exploitation or extortion, also known as sextortion. Victims have also been known to be juvenile females as well as middle-aged men and women.
- The victim is willing to send nude imagery to someone.
- Most predators establish a relationship solely on a virtual platform. Eventually, a predator requests a nude or partially nude picture.
- Upon receiving an image, the predator demands a large amount of money and may even negotiate with the victim for a lesser fee, else they go public. In some cases, the predator threatens the lives of loved ones.
- Investigations typically reveal the predator is linked to an out-of-country account making prosecution nearly impossible.
What To Do
If you sense someone may be victimized by a predator, consider the following actions:
- Stop the communications and remove the technology.
- Do not allow the account, messages, or pictures to be deleted.
- Be prepared to aid law enforcement:
- Note the platform (social media, apps, gaming) and save, screen capture, or print the communications and pictures. Do NOT send to anyone other than law enforcement.
- Note usernames, screen names, and emails of the victim and suspect.
- Contact law enforcement.
- Do not contact the predator or let the predator know law enforcement has been contacted.
Willing to learn more? Interested in taking on a protective role, especially for teens? Erie Police Department School Resource Officers host monthly educational sessions for parents. The last 'Teen Use of Substances and Social Media’ of this school year is scheduled for Thursday, May 11, 2023. Registration is required. For more, visit www.erieco.gov/1561/Teen-Use-of-Drugs-Alcohol-Vaping.