FBI warns Omaha parents of sextortion targeting young males

The Omaha field office said it’s becoming more common.
Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 7:03 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The FBI has issued a new warning to Omaha parents after seeing an increase in reports of adults tricking children into sending explicit content through social media.

Todd Dicaprio with the FBI is referring to it as “sextortion.” It is when an adult portrays himself as a minor to manipulate children through social media platforms to get them to send sexual pictures and videos to sell online.

“We receive on average one to two referrals per week of a child who has been exploited some sexually-suggestive matter online,” Dicaprio said.

Eugene Kowel is an agent for the FBI. He says nationwide there were about 7,000 sextortion-related complaints in 2022.

“We know that children accessing the internet leaves them vulnerable to online predators,” Kowel said.

These complaints show young males between ages 14 and 17 are targeted the most, by adult males who portray themselves as young girls.

“Sextortion can take place in many different mediums: on the phone, a tablet, a computer, messaging app, a gaming application, and on online forums,” Kowel said.

The FBI has found young males typically engage in explicit activity over video, and that’s when predators take any chance they can to record and then blackmail the victim.

“An individual can be charged, whether it’s with the production of child pornography or child sexual abuse material,” Dicaprio said. “The download, distribution, and the transport of it.”

Maximum punishment can include a life sentence.

The FBI said there are ways you can prevent your child from being a victim. First, ensure your child is cautious about who they encounter online. Ensure they are being selective about what they share online. Lastly, they need to be aware that people can pretend to be anything or anyone.

“We want to get this message out, to work with parents, caregivers, and teachers to help prevent this crime before it happens and help children come forward when it does,” Kowel said.

The FBI advises that if your child or someone else has been a victim of sextortion to contact your local FBI office.