Upstate sheriff’s office is warning of potential dangers online | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office is urging parents to be aware of the dangers teens and children can face on the internet.

“This is rampant,” Lt. Ryan Flood with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office said. “It is going on all across the world.”

Sextortion is when an online predator pressures people, including kids and teens, into sending explicit images that they then threaten to share with the person or child’s family and friends if they don’t receive money, more pictures, or other favors.

The sheriff’s office wants to make everyone aware of how easily someone you know could become a victim.

“There are multiple targets,” Lt. Flood said. “These people are engaging with these teens and with these children on online platforms for their streaming services, on their phones, apps, social media and they are just engaging in simple conversations.”

Flood said often it starts as simple as playing a game. Online predators will disguise themselves as someone your child’s age and work to gain their trust.

“A lot of times the people who are committing these crimes are overseas so it’s hard to track,” Flood said.

With a phone at the fingertips of almost everyone, the sheriff’s office said investigators with their Internet Crimes Against Children unit are working hard to stop children from falling into this trap. They say to never send explicit images to anyone, even someone you think you can trust.

“Once you send it, even though you might delete it, it is forever out there,” Flood said.

Officers said while many children may have their camera on for game streaming, if they’re not playing, the camera should always be covered.

“Oftentimes, we have seen people are collecting material, collecting content whenever you are changing clothes or whatever and then all of a sudden they have that and then they are threatening to disseminate that if they don’t receive money,” Flood said.

The sheriff’s office said their investigators have handled a number of calls regarding sextortion. Many times, the predator is not local so the sheriff’s office said they work with the FBI to track these people down.

According to the FBI, sextortion cases are on the rise. They said between October of 2021 and March of last year more than 13,000 reports were filed.

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