FBI warns sextortion cases on the rise

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — A warning from the FBI as cases of sextortion, the threat of blackmailing someone with sexual information, continue to rise.

With social media and technology growing and evolving at a pace no one can keep up with, predators are using it to their advantage, making it more dangerous than ever for kids online.

“We’ve seen an increase across the world, definitely across this nation, and of course, Oklahoma on these types extortion cases,” said Edward Gray, Special Agent in charge at the OKC Field Office.

Special agents say cases of sextortion are reaching all-time highs across the nation, including here in Oklahoma. They say social media is the biggest platform predators use.

“Our agents here have seen an increase of about 50% of these cases from 2021 to 2023,” Gray said.

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That’s just in Oklahoma, nationwide there were more than 5,200 cases in 2023. So, the FBI is doing everything they can to stop them.

“We obviously go after the offenders and we try to prosecute as many as we can in these type of cases, but we feel like we can’t prosecute ourselves out of this type of threat,” Gray said. “So, the next thing that we try to do is educate the public.”

Gray says they emphasize that the child involved is always the victim. He’s calling on parents to have conversations with their kids to raise awareness of sextortion, letting them know it is not their fault.

“Have this conversation with their children, let their children know that if this ever does happen to them, that they are not in trouble for this,” Gray said. “We want the kids and the parents both to know that they’re the victim, that even if they did send some explicit material or embarrassing material, whatever it is, they’re not in trouble for this case.”

Here’s another important tip: if you find yourself in this situation, do not delete any messages between you and the predator, since those make it easier for the FBI to track them down.

Below are links to more tips and information about sextortion.

How can we help you

The financially motivated sextortion threat

Take it down

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