FBI Launches Sextortion Awareness Campaign in High Schools, Middle Schools

By  //  September 6, 2019

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Stop Sextortion campaign

ABOVE VIDEO: An FBI special agent defines sextortion and provides tips to avoid falling prey to online predators.

(FBI) – Students in many high schools and middle schools will soon be walking by FBI posters warning them of a crime that begins on their smartphones, computers, and game consoles.

“The goal of our Stop Sextortion campaign is to alert young people to one of the risks that they can encounter online,” said Supervisory Special Agent Brian Herrick, assistant chief of the FBI’s Violent Crime Section.

“Both youth and caregivers need to understand that a sexual predator can victimize children or teens in their own homes through the devices they use for gaming, homework, and communicating with friends.”

Sextortion begins when a predator reaches out to a young person over a game, app, or social media account. Through deception, manipulation, money and gifts, or threats, the predator convinces the young person to produce an explicit video or image.

Students in many high schools and middle schools will soon be walking by FBI posters warning them of a crime that begins on their smartphones, computers, and game consoles. (FBI Image)

When the young person starts to resist requests to make more images, the criminal will use threats of harm or exposure of the early images to pressure the child to continue producing content.

“These predators are really good at targeting youth,” said Special Agent Kiffa Shirley in the FBI’s Billings Resident Agency in Montana (part of the Salt Lake City Field Office). Shirley recently investigated a case where the criminal offered money in exchange for explicit images from teens. That man, Tyler Daniel Emineth, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for his crimes.

“Young people don’t seem to have an on-guard mentality when it comes to strangers contacting them through the Internet,” said Shirley. “And many teens feel less inhibited about sharing online.”

That sense of trust and comfort allows a criminal to coerce a young person into creating and sending an image, which begins the cycle of victimization.

The Stop Sextortion campaign seeks to inform students of the crime so they know how to avoid risky situations online and know to ask for help if they are being victimized.

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