Practice safe Snapchat: University of Missouri Police say 'sextortion' scams are snaring students
The FBI says extortion by threatening to release sexually explicit images or video is a growing problem across the county. Thousands of cases were reported to police last year.
In just the first four months of 2023, the University of Missouri Police Department has already investigated 10 cases of "sextortion."
The scam starts when someone reaches out on an app like Snapchat or Instagram and flirts, says MUPD spokeswoman Sara Diedrich. After several hours or even days, they'll ask for sexual photos or video.
“Almost immediately this person turns around and threatens to post the photo, you know, do something with the photo unless this person pays money,” she told KCUR.
She said the simplest way to avoid "sextortion" is to never send sexual images to people you don't know.
“Online, people can pretend to be anyone," Diedrich said. "It’s just better to be cautious.”
She says people should be wary of messages from strangers, especially if they ask you to change platforms.
The FBI says police across the country investigated 7,000 cases of "sextortion" last year — and 3,000 of those were attempts to extort minors.
“The FBI has seen a horrific increase in reports of financial sextortion schemes targeting minor boys — and the fact is that the many victims who are afraid to come forward are not even included in those numbers,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement.
The FBI said a lot of these scams start in West African counties like Nigeria and Ivory Coast.