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FBI warns of ‘sextortion’ attempts in Arizona

PHOENIX (KVOA) – On Tuesday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warned the public about recent incidents in Arizona involving sextortion.

In a news release, the FBI said it has been seeing cases that involve an adult coercing teenagers through social media into producing sexual images and videos online. This is called sextortion and it can start on any site where people meet and communicate.

The FBI said that through deception, manipulation, money and gifts, or threats, a predator convinces a young person to produce an explicit video or image. When the young person starts to resist requests to make more images, the criminal will use threats of harm or exposure of the early images to pressure the child to continue producing content. 

The FBI gave the following tips to help protect yourself and your children while online:

  • Be selective about what you share online, especially your personal information and passwords. If your social media accounts are open to everyone, a predator may be able to figure out a lot of information about you.
  • Be wary of anyone you encounter for the first time online. Block or ignore messages from strangers.
  • Be aware that people can pretend to be anything or anyone online. Videos and photos are not proof that a person is who they claim to be.
  • Be suspicious if you meet someone on one game or app and they ask you to start talking to them on a different platform.
  • Be willing to ask for help. If you are getting messages or requests that don’t seem right, block the sender and report the behavior.

If you believe someone you know has been a victim of sextortion, contact the FBI Phoenix Field Office at 623-466-1999 or report the crime online here.

More information about Sextortion, including resources for teens, schools, parents and caregivers can be found here.

Alexis Berdine

Alexis Berdine is an Investigative Multi-Media Journalist at KVOA.

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