Teenagers in Georgia have become victims of “sextortion,” a scam that has spread across their screens and ensnared them in a web of blackmail and voyeuristic abuse, amid an alarming surge in digital manipulation.
As FOX 5 Atlanta reported, the FBI Atlanta reports that the number of cases where young males have been forced to give sexual pictures to be extorted for money has increased by an astounding 700% since 2021.
According to Thomas McAfee, supervisory special agent in the FBI’s Crimes Against Children and Human Trafficking program, “It’s because it’s easy, these folks, who are typically overseas actors, you know, West Africa and Nigeria, we’re seeing some other localities increasing their sextortion activity,” the FBI’s attacks are borderless; these criminal enterprises are frequently run by offenders outside of the United States.
Specifically, McAfee noted activity in West Africa and Nigeria. The issue has become more prominent due to the widespread use of social media, as noted by McAfee, who stated, “Everyone is on social media, Everybody wants to have large followings, lots of likes and things like that.”
Sextortionists usually prey on boys between the ages of 14 and 17, threatening to disclose their incriminating images to profit from their predation.
McAfee stressed the significance of responding to victims, advising “If you become victimized, stop engaging with the perpetrator, Don’t send them money, Certainly, don’t do any self-harm, Save all your photographs and chat logs, Don’t send them to us, but save them,” as reported by Atlanta News First. The FBI Atlanta office received 196 reports of such incidents in 2023 alone.
Parental engagement is needed, as McAfee reminds parents in “Should your child’s account be private? It should, indeed. Do you need to keep an eye on your child’s account? Indeed. To stop these things from happening, parents need to be more involved, he told Atlanta News First.
Parents and teenagers are referred to the FBI’s resources after the agency assisted in the extradition of two individuals from Nigeria last year who were involved in a global sextortion network that resulted in sad outcomes, including the death of a 17-year-old from Michigan.