BALTIMORE (WJZ) — With a new school year underway, the FBI is increasing its efforts to protect children from online predators. As Alex Demetrick reports, there’s a form of blackmail known as sextortion.
The FBI has released a video playing out a sextortion scene by actors.
“I know you’ve been waiting for awhile. I wanted to give you something special,” says one actor.
But for victims, sextortion is very real.
Teens can be lured into sharing promiscuous photos online, through texting or social media.
“Once they have that photo, they basically blackmail the individual to provide more photos of themselves,” said FBI Special Agent Michael Mizer.
According to the FBI, victims range in age from 10 to 17. Authorities are urging parents to be proactive.
“They need to look at who their friends and followers are, the app they’re using, look at the photos that are on the phone,” said Special Agent Mizer.
But sextortion is far from the only danger threatening kids.
Two years ago, Victor Arroyo was charged with kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 12-year-old Baltimore County girl, after the two met through an messenger app called Kik, and began communicating.
Nicolle Lovell was 13 when she entered into an online relationship. She was murdered, allegedly after being lured to her death by David Eisenhower, a Virginia Tech student from Howard County.
“They’re animals. Just on the prowl for their next Nicolle,” said Nicolle’s stepmom Terri Lovell.
The internet is the new dark alley, and according to the FBI.
“These individuals basically have 24-7 access to your kids,” said Special Agent Mizer.
“Parents need to pass that warning on to their children, early and often,” he said.
If parents find something inappropriate on their children’s devices, they’re being urged not to erase it, but report it to police first.