FBI: Sextortion cases are skyrocketing

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WITN) – Financial sextortion cases are on the rise across the country, with North Carolina seeing a significant increase in just one year.

According to agents with the FBI Charlotte Field Office, financial sextortion cases across the country are skyrocketing, with North Carolina seeing a 20% increase in reports statewide from 2022 to 2023. Agents say they believe that number is much higher because many cases are not reported.

Agents say financial sextortion happens when criminals create fake social media accounts and then trick victims into sending explicit photos or videos. The criminal then will threaten the victim to pay them or the criminal will share the images online with the victim’s family and friends.

According to agents, most predators will pose as a young girl and then target teenage boys, but agents say they have also had cases where teenage girls or even adults fell victim.

Agents say that in more recent cases, predators have used artificial intelligence to alter photos they took from a victim’s social media account into sexual images, and then share them on social media, public forums, or pornographic websites.

Agents say that paying the criminals does not make them stop as they will continue to demand more money.

The FBI recommends the following ways to protect yourself on social media or gaming platforms:

  • Be wary of anyone who attempts to connect to you online that you haven’t met in person. Block or ignore messages from strangers.
  • Be aware people pretend to be anyone online. Videos and photos are not proof that a person is who they claim to be.
  • Be suspicious if someone you connect with asks you to start communicating on a different platform.
  • Encourage children to report suspicious behavior to a trusted adult.

More information about sextortion can be found at FBI: Financial Sextortion