FBI Springfield: Sextortion on the Rise in Area

By Benjamin Cox on January 16, 2024 at 4:57pm

The FBI is warning parents, educators, caregivers, and children about the dangers of online activity that may lead to the solicitation and enticement of a minor to engage in sexual acts.

According to the FBI, sextortion involves an offender coercing a minor to create and send sexually explicit images or video. An offender gets sexually explicit material from the child, then threatens to release that compromising material unless the victim produces more. These offenders are seeking sexual gratification.

Financially motivated sextortion is a criminal act that involves an offender coercing a minor to create and send sexually explicit material. Offenders threaten to release that compromising material unless they receive payment, which is often requested in gift cards, mobile payment services, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency. These offenders are motivated by financial gain, not necessarily just sexual gratification.

Sextortion victims are typically females between the ages of 10 to 17, while financially motivated sextortion victims are typically males between the ages of 14 to 17, but any child can become a victim. Offenders in financially motivated sextortion schemes are usually located outside the United States and primarily in west African countries such as Nigeria and Ivory Coast, or Southeast Asian countries such as the Philippines.

These crimes can lead victims to self-harm and has led to suicide. From October 2021 to March 2023, the FBI and Homeland Security Investigations received over 13,000 reports of online financial sextortion of minors. The sextortion involved at least 12,600 victims— primarily boys—and led to at least 20 suicides. Financial sextortion reports increased by 20% last year alone.

The FBI Field Office in Springfield says these incidents are picking up in the local area in the last year, too. Online gaming and social media apps as well as instant message apps are the primary platform. Special Agent in Charge David Nanz of the FBI’s Springfield Field office says that perpetrators will often pose as peers that appear to be from the general area and quickly ask a victim to switch to a video call or chat platform. Nanz says the key is to closely monitor your child’s online activity at all times.

If you or someone you know believes that they are a victim of sextortion or financially motivated sextortion, immediately report the activity to law enforcement. You can report it to FBI Springfield at 217-522-9675 or by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI or visiting tips.fbi.gov.