NORTHEAST OKLAHOMA – The partnership between the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is issuing a national public safety alert regarding the financial sextortion of children.

Over 3,000 minor victims, primarily boys were targeted in the past year across the United States.

“The FBI has seen a horrific increase in reports of financial sextortion schemes targeting minor boys—and the fact is that the many victims who are afraid to come forward are not even included in those numbers,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Over the past year, law enforcement has received over 7,000 reports related to the online financial sextortion of minors and more than a dozen suicides.

A large percentage of these sextortion schemes originate outside of the United States, and primarily in West African countries such as Nigeria and Ivory Coast.

Financial sextortion schemes occur in online environments where young people feel most comfortable—using common social media sites, gaming sites, or video chat applications that feel familiar and safe.  On these platforms, online predators often use fake female accounts and target minor males, between 14 to 17 years old but the FBI has interviewed victims as young as 10 years old.

Through deception, predators convince the young person to produce an explicit video or photo. Once predators acquire the images, they threaten to release the compromising material unless the victim sends money or gift cards. Often the predators demand payment through a variety of peer-to-peer payment applications. In many cases, however, predators release the images even if payments are made. The shame, fear, and confusion that victims feel when they are caught in this cycle often prevents them from asking for help or reporting the abuse.

Parents and caregivers are encouraged to engage with their children about financial sextortion schemes. 

What if you or your child is a victim?

  • If young people are being exploited, they are victims of a crime and should report it. Contact your local FBI field office, call 1-800-CALL-FBI, or report it online at tips.fbi.gov.
  • The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) has outlined steps parents and young people can take if they or their child are a victim of sextortion, including:
  • Remember, the predator is to blame, not your child or you.
  • Get help before deciding whether to pay money or otherwise comply with the predator. Cooperating or paying rarely stops the blackmail and continued harassment.
  • REPORT the predator’s account via the platform’s safety feature.
  • BLOCK the predator and DO NOT DELETE the profile or messages because that can be helpful to law enforcement in identifying and stopping them.
  • Let NCMEC help get explicit images of you off the internet.
  • Visit org/IsYourExplicitContentOutThere to learn how to notify companies yourself or visit cybertipline.org to report to us for help with the process.
  • Ask for help. This can be a very complex problem and may require help from adults or law enforcement.

Information, resources, and conversation guides are available at fbi.gov/StopSextortion.