State is Warning Parents & Students of “Sextortion”
With more people at home this year the scammers have been on the prowl more than ever. There have been several types of scams but a new one is targeting youth.
Attorney General Dana Nessel, along with the Michigan Association of Superintendents & Administrators (MASA), are warning parents and their children to know the signs of "sextortion."
...occurs when the predator befriends a teen, manipulates the teen into exposing themselves by sending photos or videos, and the predator then threatens to share the material if the teen doesn’t send money or more inappropriate images.
Predators usually target kids between 10 and 17-years-old, most of whom are currently doing virtual learning. The press release states that two Allegan County high school boys found themselves the target of a "sextortion" when they were lured into a private video chat with someone they thought was a female. Eventually they started receiving e-mails demanding money via PayPal or Western Union.
So how do these scammers find their victims? An easy way to find a target is by scanning friends lists. Once they find someone they'll pose as an acquaintance, fellow student, or a mutual friend of someone the victim knows.
Parents and kids are highly encouraged to watch this video on how predators lure teens online.
To prevent your child from becoming a victim you can monitor their activity and let them know to warn you once they've been approached by someone they don't know or are eerie of. The FBI recommends the following:
- Set privacy restrictions to the highest one possible on social media pages
- Immediately report anyone who is engaging in sexually explicit activity online with a student/minor
- Don't be afraid to report to law enforcement - the child is not engaging in a crime
- Parents - review and approve apps your child downloads
- Discuss internet safety with your child and teen.
- Have an adult present when kids are communicating through webcam
Teens can also safely and anonymously submit any tips to Michigan's OK2SAY if they suspect potential harm to themselves or someone at their school. Tips can be submitted 24/7.