The FBI has issued an urgent sextortion scam alert just weeks after a teenager killed himself after paying extortionists.
Authorities across the country are now warning parents about the internet program targeting teenage boys.
Sextortion is when a scammer tricks someone into sending explicit pictures of themselves and then demands money if they don’t share the photos.
The scammers often pretend to be teenage girls to lure potential victims, FBI agents told WJAX CBS News Office in Jacksonville, Florida.
It’s a dangerous scheme that’s seen more every year, authorities said, and it’s increasingly targeting teenage boys.
The warning came afterwards Michigan teenager Jordan John DeMay died by suicide after paying $300 to extortionists in March.
The criminals threatened the teenager, saying they would release an explicit photo of him if he didn’t pay them $1,000, police said.
A South Carolina mother said a similar situation happened to her son.
She said the 14-year-old was contemplating suicide after sending a photo to scammers.
“Knowing that the 14-15 year old is being blackmailed to the extent that he was and the things the adult said. It’s enough to make even an adult think about life,” the mother said WIEFF.
“We thought we were doing whatever we were supposed to do as parents, but with this sextortion stuff, it’s really not that easy. It goes so far beyond just online security.”
Like DeMay’s family, the mother decided to share her story as a cautionary tale for other teens and their parents.
“If it can happen to my kid, it can honestly happen to any kid. I never thought in a million years that my child would talk to someone they didn’t know,” the mother said.
She shared that her son is doing much better and is seeking justice.
Authorities encourage parents to take steps to keep their children safe online.
The FBI encouraged the following:
- Be selective about what you share online, especially your personal information
- Be wary of people you meet online for the first time. Block messages from strangers
- Be aware that people can pretend to be someone online. Videos and photos are not always proof
- Be suspicious when you meet someone in a game or app and they ask you to chat on another platform
If you or someone you know has become a victim of these schemes, you should contact the authorities.
If you or someone you know is affected by any of the issues addressed in this story, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
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https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/18279920/sextortion-teen-boys-extortion-suicide/ Urgent warning of ‘sextortion’ scam targeting boys online as cops say teenager killed himself after paying extortionists