Safety Officials Say Number of “Sextortion” Threats to Youth Growing in MN
State safety officials say they are seeing an increase in the number of child financial “sextortion” incidents in Minnesota.
The crimes involve victims being targeted on the internet and being tricked into giving illicit images of themselves to suspects who then blackmail them.
“The crime always follows the same pattern: most often it’s a boy, befriended on social media or gaming sites by someone purporting to be a beautiful girl,” explained Drew Evans, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension superintendent, at a conference last week. “She convinces him to share explicit image or video of himself that shows his face. Immediately, the blackmailer demands money or gift cards from the victim, threatening to release the explicit images if they don’t. If money isn’t provided, the threats escalate to threatening to kill the victim or their loved ones.”
“It doesn’t matter where in our state you live. If your child uses the internet, they are at risk,” said Minnesota Department of Public Safety commissioner Bob Jacobson in a statement.
Public safety officials say the majority of the blackmail attempts are coming from outside the United States, primarily from west African countries.
Officials stress that it is important for parents and guardians to inform their children about the risks they face from these predators. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has many helpful tips for parents and guardians regarding sexploitation on their website.
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