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Info@NationalCyberSecurity

Florida officials warn parents, teens about online sextortion | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing


September is National Suicide Prevention Month and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is warning parents and teens about online sextortion ending with victims taking their own lives.

Within the past 18 months, at least three teens, one in California, one in Michigan and one in South Carolina, all committed suicide after being extorted online, according to a news release.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there is an uptick in sextortion reports and the addition of artificial intelligence tools can simplify the process for online predators.

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Criminals are purchasing hacked stolen media accounts, then using artificial intelligence to send sexually explicit images to victims and establish online relationships with teens in an attempt to receive similar photos from the victim to use as a means of blackmail-forcing the victim to send money, perform explicit acts or even agree to an in-person meeting.

“The rapid rise of artificial intelligence makes it easier for predators to impersonate and target teens. We are beginning to see this new technology deployed in sextortion schemes to trick minors into sending explicit photos and videos of themselves,” said Attorney General Ashley Moody. “Parents, please talk to your children about online safety and remind them that adult predators may use advanced technology to appear as a peer or love interest in an effort to gain trust and ultimately take advantage of them.”

Read: Orlando firefighter accused of aggravated assault after incident at fire station

The FBI reported that at least 7,000 reports of sextortion of minors occurred last year in the United States, with the majority of those targeted being teenage boys.

Most victims targeted are around ages 14 and 17, but there are reports of children as young as 10 years old receiving sextortion messages.

Read: Former CEO of Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence arrested for fraud, stole millions

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children lists what to do if you fall victim to a sextortion case:

  • Report sextortion to law enforcement;

  • Know that cooperating rarely stops a blackmailer;

  • Flag the social media account via the platform’s safety feature;

  • Block the suspect on the social media platform, but do not delete messages because they can be helpful in stopping the blackmailer;

  • Use resources like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to help get explicit images off the internet- visit MissingKids.org/IsYourExplicitContentOutThere; and

  • Remember, the blackmailer is to blame, not you. Even if you made a choice you regret, what they are doing is a crime.

Read: Traffic stop leads to seizure of more than one ounce of fentanyl, along with heroin and cocaine

If you are suffering from mental health issues, please call the Suicide Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988.

Attorney General Moody released an Online Safety Toolkit to ensure that parents are equipped to help keep children safe from sextortion and human trafficking. To view the toolkit, CLICK HERE.

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