Local Instagram Blackmail "Sextortion" Cases Increasing (Photo)
JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. - The Southern Oregon Child Exploitation Team (SOCET) joint inter-agency task force is investigating seven local cases of blackmail “sextortion” involving juvenile males on Instagram. The scammer poses as a young woman who befriends the victim, starts a chat-based dialogue, shares pornography they claim is them, and requests a sexually explicit image of the victim. Once that image is shared, the suspect threatens to send it to the victim’s friends and followers on Instagram unless money is wired to their account. SOCET is investigating these seven “sextortion” cases with adolescent male victims from throughout Southern and Central Oregon. In at least two of the instances the victim has wired money to the suspect, and later been asked for more. Often, the suspect will have multiple accounts they use to threaten the child if they block them. In a few of the instances, the suspects have sent a screen shot of the victim to other friends and followers on their Instagram account.
Nationwide, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are tracking thousands of these blackmail schemes. This scam has even led to suicide and suicide attempts for victims. Investigators have tracked this particular scam to suspects overseas and are working with foreign authorities to prosecute them for their crimes. Past “sextortion” blackmail scams usually targeted juvenile females with coercion and threats to create more sexually explicit images of themselves. This particular scam is targeting young males on Instagram.
To make sure your child does not become a victim, parents need to be aware of what their kids are doing on social media. Make sure your child’s social media accounts are private and do not reveal personal information to the public. If your child becomes a victim of “sextortion” immediately block and report the offending account. Report any contacts to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) at https://report.cybertip.org/
SOCET is a joint inter-agency task force that started in June of 2020 to combat child exploitation and human trafficking. The task force consists of investigators from Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Grants Pass Police Department, FBI, and HSI; as well as prosecutors from our local, state and federal law enforcement partners in Jackson and Josephine County.