Sextortion is a form of sexual exploitation in which a person is threatened, coerced, or blackmailed into providing sexual content, images, or videos. Typically, the perpetrator will use threats of physical harm, public exposure, or social humiliation to manipulate the victim into complying with their demands.
Sextortion can occur through a variety of channels, including social media, dating apps, email, and text messages. In some cases, the perpetrator may create a fake profile or impersonate someone the victim knows in order to gain their trust and access to personal information.
Victims of sextortion may experience significant emotional distress, as well as financial and reputational harm if their images or videos are shared publicly. It is important to note that sextortion is a serious crime, and anyone who is a victim of sextortion should seek support and report the incident to the authorities.
How to prevent becoming a victim of sextortion:
- Be selective about what you share online, especially your personal information and passwords. If your social media accounts are open to everyone, a predator may be able to figure out a lot of information about you or your children.
- Set your social media profiles to "private" to limit the amount of personal information visible to the public, and only accept friend requests from people you know in real life.
- Be wary of anyone you encounter for the first time online. Block or ignore messages from strangers.
- Be aware that people can pretend to be anything or anyone online. Videos and photos are not proof that a person is who they claim to be.
- Be suspicious if you meet someone on a game or app and they ask you to start talking to them on a different platform.
- Be cautious about clicking on links or downloading attachments sent by unknown or suspicious individuals, as they may contain malware or viruses that could compromise your device and personal information.
- Encourage your children to report suspicious behavior to a trusted adult.
- Teach your children about internet safety and the potential dangers of sextortion. Discuss the importance of setting boundaries and not sharing personal information with strangers online.
- Consider using reputable parental control software to monitor your child's online activity and limit their access to potentially harmful websites or apps.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sextortion, seek emotional support from a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional. Sextortion can be a traumatic experience, and it's important to prioritize your mental and emotional well-being.
If you believe you or someone you know is the victim of sextortion:
- Contact your local FBI field office (contact information can be found at www.fbi.gov), the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.ic3.gov, or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (1-800-the-lost or Cybertipline.org).
- Do not delete anything before law enforcement is able to review it.
- Tell law enforcement everything about the encounters you had online; it may be embarrassing, but it is necessary to find the offender.