The Federal Bureau of Investigation is warning parents and children alike that criminals from West African countries are targeting teenage boys online and is threatening to release explicit photos of the victims if they don’t pay.
“The girl from a neighboring high school who addresses your teenage son on Facebook or Instagram could actually be a West African criminal,” the statement said Cleveland.com citing a recent FBI alert.
Predators primarily target boys aged 13 to 17 through instant messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger or Instagram, pretending to be young girls from nearby communities. They first share explicit photos and then ask the youths to share some of their own before using the photos or videos they receive as blackmail.
The criminals, often from countries like Nigeria or Ivory Coast, then demand money or gift cards under the threat of publicly sharing the images. Victims often fall into a cycle of “shame, fear and confusion” that can prevent them from reporting the crimes.
“The FBI has seen a staggering increase in reports of financial sextortion programs targeting underage boys — and the fact is, the many victims who are afraid to come forward aren’t even included in those numbers,” said the FBI Director Christopher Wray in a statement.
In just eight months of 2022, authorities received over 7,000 online finance reports.sextortion‘, which the FBI defines as ‘a felony that occurs when someone threatens to disseminate your private and sensitive material unless you provide them with images of a sexual nature, sexual favors, or money.’
The predators continue to publish the graphic images, even if in many cases they are paid, it is said FoxNews.
Of the at least 3,000 victims of these crimes, more than a dozen have committed suicide. Reports from the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children have revealed that some of the victims were as young as 10 years old.
The predators’ profiles often “pop up out of nowhere,” federal authorities say, before “quickly turning the conversation to sharing explicit images and videos.”
Authorities are encouraging teens to exercise a healthy skepticism about anyone they meet online who they don’t know personally, especially when they begin to engage in sexualized conversations.
https://www.theblaze.com/news/predators-blackmail-american-teens West African sexual predators are blackmailing teens online, FBI warns