Oklahoma City FBI Warns of Sextortion Increase, Lawmakers Advance A Solution

Sextortion cases among young teens have increased by more than 50 percent in two years, according to the Oklahoma City Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Thursday, April 11th 2024, 10:33 pm

By: News 9, Matt McCabe


-

Sextortion cases among young teens have increased by more than 50 percent in two years, according to the Oklahoma City Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Agents attribute a rise in cases to ever-expanding digital applications, which can reach children on a variety of devices at virtually any age.

"We've done our best to try to get the word out to educate the public, and most importantly educate the kids who are the victims in these cases of criminal violations," said Special Agent in Charge Edward Gray.

Of the thousands of cases investigated each year, the FBI said there are more teenage boy victims than any other demographic. More than 20 youth suicides have been connected to financial sextortion.

In cases of sextortion, criminals contact children through online platforms and solicit explicit photos. Often, those criminals pose as someone who they are not. Criminals will then demand money or additional photos, typically with a threat to post the photo elsewhere or share it with people who are family or friends.

"The offenders and the perpetrators in these cases are very innovative and very patient," Gray said. "They'll use different platforms, they'll use all forms of social media, they'll use gaming apps, they'll come after the kids on phones, on iPads, on desktop computers."

Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat authored SB 1479, which harshens penalties for sextortion predators.

"Kids don't know where to turn when they fall victim to sextortion," Treat said.

Senate Bill 1479 passed the Senate unanimously in March and was passed out of a House committee on Thursday.

"Too often these go unpunished because, a lot of times, it's people in New York or overseas that are perpetrating this," Treat said. "They're just trying to get money out of the deal."

The FBI recommends parents have conversations with their children about the dangers of sextortion and the importance of not talking to strangers online. But, if parents learn their child became a victim, the FBI recommends not shaming or guilting them but instead supporting them through the trauma of being manipulated.

"The children are not the subject of the investigations, they are the victims," Gray said. "We will not only help them with pursuing the investigation with rigor but also provide resources to them and their family with victim specialists."

Anyone can report financial sextortion by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI or visiting tips.fbi.gov.

logo

Get The Daily Update!

Be among the first to get breaking news, weather, and general news updates from News on 6 delivered right to your inbox!

More Like This

April 11th, 2024

May 24th, 2024

May 24th, 2024

May 24th, 2024

Top Headlines

May 24th, 2024

May 24th, 2024

May 24th, 2024

May 24th, 2024