BY: STAFF REPORT | BocaNewsNow.com
SOUTH FLORIDA (BocaNewsNow.com) (Copyright © 2023 MetroDesk Media, LLC) — Area police are warning parents to be aware of “financial sextortion” attempts that may be targeting teens, especially teen boys. The Broward Sheriff’s Office issued this advisory Tuesday afternoon. It is a must-read:
OFFICIAL ADVISORY: Financial sextortion is an insidious internet-based crime that is growing in size and scope locally and across the globe. The crime threatens a vulnerable population – teenagers, primarily teenage boys – who, once victimized, are often unprepared for the cascade of emotions that engulfs them.
Financial sextortion works like this – a teenage boy receives a message on a social media or gaming app from an individual who appears to be a teenage girl. The girl pretends to have a romantic interest in the boy, and a relationship is cultivated. At some point, the “girl” sends a sexually suggestive photo to the boy and asks for one in return. The boy complies, and financial sextortion begins. The “girl” is now unmasked and shown to be a blackmailer who extorts the boy for money, gift cards, or other forms of payment in order to prevent the explicit images from being shared online with the boy’s family and friends.
In some tragic cases, the shame and guilt of having been tricked is so enormous that it leads the child to suicide or self-harm.
The South Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which is overseen by the Broward Sheriff’s Office and is comprised of more than 60 law enforcement agencies across 12 counties in south and southwest Florida, wants teens, parents, educators, caregivers and community leaders to be aware of this crime, its impacts and how to prevent it.
Investigators believe that many financial sextortion crimes originate overseas in Africa. In many instances, federal authorities in the U.S. take the lead on these investigations.
As this problem persists, BSO wants teens to remember the following advice:
• Never send a sexually suggestive or explicit photo or video to anyone. Once you share that material, you no longer have control of it.
• Beware of strangers you meet online. They may not be who they claim to be in their online photos or profile.
• Never share personal information online.
• If you become a victim of sextortion or financial sextortion, immediately tell a trusted adult and contact law enforcement. Reporting it to law enforcement enables investigators to pursue the perpetrators.
• If you are victimized, stop responding, take screenshots of all communications, and report and block the user on the social media or gaming platform. Also, don’t send more images and don’t pay any money.
• Remember that there is HELP for you. Resources are available. You do not have to endure this alone.
For parents and caregivers, please remember:
• Be familiar with sextortion and financial sextortion and talk to your children about how and when these crimes occur and how to respond if it happens to them.
• Be aware of what your children are doing online. Know the social media and gaming apps they’re using and know their passwords.
• Check your child’s online and social media activity.
• Put limits on your child’s screen time.
• Don’t let your children have or use electronic devices in their bedrooms. Keep electronic devices in common areas of your home.
• Ask questions and create a trusting environment where your child will feel comfortable speaking to you about issues they encounter online or on social media.
LOCAL JOURNALISM SUPPORTER.
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