The world is becoming an increasingly dark place.
Thanks to oversharing on social media, predators can now learn everything about victims before moving in and developing a relationship.
Now children and young adults are being threatened and extorted in this vile and disgusting way.
“Sextortion” schemes are targeting children and young adults around the world
The Internet has developed a new frightening trend where criminals attempt to coerce their victims by using private and suggestive photos as blackmail.
The perpetrators use the photos as a means to coerce their victims to give up more imagery, give them money, or in some instances sexual favors.
“Sextortion” is a step up from normal “catfishing” that has traditionally been an effort to get people to date someone that they otherwise wouldn’t.
Now predators are using hacked materials to extort their targets, and it’s disproportionately affecting one age range more than others.
Generation Z is by and far the most affected – representing children and young adults that are disturbingly between 8 and 23-years-old.
This group of young people have grown up online and are generally less concerned about their interactions on social media.
One leading social media platform, Snapchat, is now trying to shine a light on the nefarious activity.
Predators play the long-game and work to “widen their net” and gain access to more people and data
Snapchat issued a report recently that was published by WeProtect Global Alliance.
They said criminals will take advantage of large-scale hacks that expose user data before using “the resulting photos and videos . . . to threaten or blackmail the young people . . .”
The FBI has warned these predators also sometimes identify young people through social media, dating apps, and even online gaming sites.
Once they’ve found a target, they then begin to build rapport and offer them gifts in exchange for photos and videos.
“Scammers may not be looking solely for immediate financial (or other) return from the target. Rather, their goal might be to widen their net to ensnare more people or to try to entice others for sexual relationships or other interactions,” Snap said in their report.
Snap’s report included a survey that studied responses from more than 6,000 individuals around the world.
The FBI warns these criminals are studying how to “reach and target children and teens”
The social media company found that 7-in-10 of the respondents who found themselves victim of a “catfishing” scam were ultimately told to share private images, videos, or personal information.
Over 60 percent of those victims reported to have handed the predators exactly what they were looking for.
The FBI addressed the growing concern earlier this month warning that the trend is beginning to target minors.
They said that once the criminal has obtained photos and videos, they would then publish them on social media or pornographic websites to harass and extort the victims.
According to the agency, these criminals are studying how best “to reach and target children and teens.”
They said they will use fake and sometimes real personas to gain the trust of their victims, giving the example of a man “who pretended to be a teenage girl” to target young boys online.
Snap and the FBI are encouraging young people and parents to stay vigilant when using online media.
They suggest using abuse hotlines to report the crimes and gain counseling in such scenarios.