FBI warns of rising sextortion threats in northwest Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – The FBI Little Rock has noted an increase in sextortion programs targeting children in the Northwest Arkansas region.

According to a Sept. 8 Bureau release, the FBI and local police in northwest Arkansas received “numerous reports of predators attempting to coerce young boys into sending sex videos of themselves,” then extorting money from these victims.

Here’s how this disturbing scheme works, according to the FBI:

  • A predator (posing as a young girl on social media) uses deception and manipulation to convince a young man, usually between the ages of 13 and 17, to engage in explicit sexual activity via video chat.
  • The video is secretly recorded and saved by the predator.
  • The predator then reveals that he saved the recordings and attempts to extort money from the juvenile victim by threatening to post the videos on various social media platforms.
  • To receive money, the predator may ask for bank account login information or request gift cards.

Sextortion is a crime. Coercion of a child by an adult to produce child sexual exploitation material (CSAM) carries severe penalties, including potential life sentences for offenders.

To stop the victimization, children usually notify someone – normally a parent, teacher, caregiver or law enforcement, according to the FBI. The embarrassment that children feel because of the activity they have been forced to engage in usually prevents them from asking for help.

Sextortionists often claim dozens of victims around the world. So when a victim comes forward to help law enforcement identify a predator, they likely prevent “countless future incidents of sexual exploitation,” according to the report.

Here are some tips for protecting adults and children online:

  • Parents and children should be selective about what they share online. If social media accounts are open to everyone, offenders can easily find out more about parents and their children and then use that information for predatory purposes.
  • Beware of people you meet online. Block or ignore messages from strangers.
  • Predators can pretend to be anyone online. Videos and photos are not proof that a person is who they say they are.
  • Be very suspicious if someone you meet on a game or app asks you to start communicating with them on another platform.
  • Encourage children to report suspicious behavior to a trusted adult.

If you know someone who might be a victim of sextortion in Arkansas:

  • Contact the FBI Arkansas Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force at 501-221-9100.
  • Don’t delete anything until law enforcement is able to review it.
  • Tell law enforcement all about online dating. It may be embarrassing, but you have to find the predator.

Comments are closed.