The FBI is warning parents and to be wary of “sextortion schemes” targeting minors.

In a press release issued by the FBI on Wednesday, the agency warned of an significant increase in reports of predators posing as girls on social media.

Their aim is to coerce young boys into sexual discourse, which is followed by threats to share a victims self generated sexual content on social media with friends and family contacts, if the victim doesn't pay.

Online sexual predators use “deception and manipulation” to convince a young boys, typically between 13 and 17, to engage in explicit sexual activity over video chat while secretly recording.

Victims are then pressured to send gift cards, or bank account login information under threat their content will be posted on social media if the money is not sent.

Online sexual exploitation is a serious crime. The coercion of a child by an adult to produce child sexual abuse material carries heavy penalties.

Online sexual offenders frequently have dozens of victims around the world, so coming forward to help law enforcement identify a predator may prevent countless future incidents of sexual exploitation.

Parents should be selective about what they share online. If social media accounts are open to everyone, offenders can easily learn about
parents and their children, and then use that information.

The FBI have offered the following advice.

• Be wary of anyone you encounter online. Block or ignore messages from strangers.

• People can pretend to be anyone online. Videos and photos are not proof that a person is who he or she claims to be.

• Be highly suspicious if someone you meet on a game or app asks you
to start communicating with him or her on a different platform.

• Encourage children to report suspicious behavior to a trusted adult.

If you, or someone you know may be a victim of sextortion:

• Do not delete anything before law enforcement is able to review it.

• Tell law enforcement everything about the online encounters. It may be embarassing, but it is necessary to find the predator.

It is essential you make your local law enforcement aware, if you, or one of your children are victims of this horrendous type of crime.

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