2 child sextortion cases in Hampton Roads under investigation | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. — They think they’ve made a friend online, but it’s really a predator looking to take advantage of children.

Sextortion continues to be a problem across the country, including here in Hampton Roads. Search warrants from the Virginia Beach Courthouse outline two disturbing cases.

The documents state that back on July 2, a boy met a female on Snapchat and she asked for nudes. He sent her a picture of his private parts, then she demanded $500 threatening to send the pictures to his contacts online and ruin his life. It states he gave her $140.

Former Detective and Crime Analyst Richard James said, “Once you get drawn into the net and you give them what they want, it only gets worse. It doesn’t get any better.”

In another case, court records state that a girl got a message from someone online with a picture of face photoshopped on a naked female body. It states the person demanded she send nudes and police got involved.

Both investigations continue.

“Some of the persons that’s doing the extortion are not even in the United States of America,” said James.

The FBI, Homeland Security and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children issued a public safety alert after seeing the problem increase in 2022. They said online predators often use fake female accounts and target minor males between 14 to 17 years old, but the FBI has interviewed victims as young as 10 years old.

“The reason why it’s increased is because it’s so easy to do. All you need is a computer, a little technology and then you go out on the web, and you go and befriend a minor,” said James.

Authorities say they worked thousands of cases in 2022 and found 3,000 victims last year, mostly boys, and reported 12 suicides because of this.

“When we’re children, our minds are not developed enough to figure out how to deal with those stressful situations. Sometimes we get embarrassed, and we move forward and do the wrong things,” said James.

The FBI says be aware and suspicious of people online, don’t send pictures or information and don’t be afraid to ask for help even if you feel embarrassed.

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