(PresidentialHill.com)- As school is out, more and more children are reportedly being targeted in what is known as “sextortion” scams. These scams are taking place on major social media platforms, including Snapchat, Instagram, and even video game platforms like Roblox and Minecraft. Any outlet that offers communication has opened up a portal where teenagers are being extorted for money and compromising pictures.
The scam usually starts with a simple conversation but can escalate quickly according to authorities. In one incident, a young boy was contacted by what was allegedly a girl who began to send him pictures of herself. The boy was asked for pictures in return and as soon as he pressed send, the person on the receiving end began to demand money to keep the pictures private.
The scammers can also claim to already have compromising pictures or videos of the teen and begin to threaten them with spreading them around unless they send more. These scams are known as “sextortion.”
Dallas FBI agent Jim Dwyer said that these scams tend to escalate quickly.
“We’ve seen where it goes from initial meeting to pictures being sent inside of an hour,” said Dwyer. “And then they’re almost immediately hit with a request for financial compensation.”
Dwyer also says that right now the biggest target is teenage boys between the ages of 14 and 17 years old but added that he has also seen cases where victims can be as young as eight.
Experts claim that these scams are especially detrimental to children whose brains are still developing. “They can’t see past that moment of shame, and often they will erase the evidence out of embarrassment. In some cases, the teenagers commit suicide rather than talk to their parents about what happened,” CBS reports.
One boy was only 17 years old when he was allegedly contacted by a girl. He was planning his future and looking for colleges when the scam hit him. They demanded $5,000 but the boy could only pay $150 from his college savings. The threats continued and the boy sadly committed suicide in March.
“How could these people look at themselves in the mirror knowing that $150 is more important than a child’s life?” said the boys mother. “There’s no other word but ‘evil’ for me.”