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FBI Warns Parents About Sextortion Online

By Karen Anderson, WBZ-TV
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FBI (file image)

FBI (file image)

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BOSTON (CBS) – The FBI wants to warn parents about an alarming trend: Sextortion.

Richard DesLauriers, the Boston FBI’s Special Agent in Charge says, “It’s extortion using sexual images.  It’s something that’s very prevalent right now with social media being a reality in the 21st century.  It is an expanding area for us, an area we have great concerns, and we want to educate the public.”

DesLauriers says predators are crafty and manipulative.  “They use all kinds of techniques to camouflage themselves and their true identity.”

WBZ-TV’s Karen Anderson reports

Supervisory Special Agent Russ Brown, with the Boston FBI’s Cyber Criminal Squad, leads the investigations. “It’s very disturbing to see children and teenagers taken advantage of and exploited through this manner,” he says. “This can damage their lives and development for years to come.”

The Boston FBI assisted in the arrest and conviction of a man in England, who blackmailed a 13-year-old girl from Massachusetts.  The girl thought she was corresponding on Facebook with a young man and sent him a naked picture; it was actually a 35-year-old man named Jonathan Murphy. He threatened the girl that he would come to the U.S. if she didn’t send him more pictures.  The family reported him to the FBI and he is now behind bars.

Brown says, “Once the extortionist has these pictures, they will send them back to the victim stating they want more images. Even if the victim doesn’t want to provide anymore images, the extortionist will threaten to email the pictures to their friends, their school mates, their parents and even times their parents employers.”

The FBI has the tools to catch predators, but they can’t contain the pictures.  DesLauriers says, “It’s virtually impossible to pull something back from the Internet once it is out there.”

DesLauriers suggestions to parents: “Engage your kids. Talk with your kids about this problem. Make sure they are aware of the dangers potential dangers, of online activity, particularly friending individuals online who might have assumed an online persona.”

The FBI says that some predators also have the tools to enable them to control your home web camera.  They recommend people cover or turn off their web cam when it’s not in use, and don’t open up attachments unless you verify they are from someone you know.

Most importantly, keep an open line of communication with your kids. Brown says, “If you don’t talk to your kids about this, someone else will.”

For more information, you can log on to FBI.gov.

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