BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Authorities are warning Maryland families about online sexual extortion scams they say predators are using to target minors.

A wave of reports has surfaced about minors being approached through social media by other users who ask for sexually explicit images and then threaten to expose them if they do not receive payment, Maryland State Police said.

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“While not always (the case), investigators have found that the suspect accounts typically originate from foreign countries which significantly limits the ability to formally identity a suspect,” the Maryland State Police release said.

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Authorities are encouraging parents to talk about their children about being safe online. They recommend that minors avoid clicking on links sent by strangers and avoid taking explicit images of themselves and sharing them online.

If a minor is contacted by an unknown account,  it is recommended that they ignore the message, report the unknown user and block them from viewing their profile.

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Additionally, MSP provided the following tips to parents to ensure their children remain safe while using computers, tablets and smartphones:

  • Put computers in a common area of the home;
  • Set screen time limits for phones and devices;
  • Know your children’s logins and passwords;
  • Remind kids about not talking to strangers;
  • Don’t let children give out personal details
  • Keep tabs on your devices’ browsing history.

CBS Baltimore Staff