FBI warns about sextortion crimes toward children

OKLAHOMA CITY - The FBI is launching a nationwide campaign to stop an online sex crime that is targeting teens and young adults.

"He was set on sharing my picture with whoever he could to ruin my reputation,” Ashley Reynolds said in an FBI online video.

Predators use a teen's favorite technology to pressure them into sending explicit photos of themselves.

"Whether it's codes, likes, follows or monetary value for the child or young adult to then produce that content,” Andrea Anderson, public affairs specialist with the FBI, said.

Those photos are then used against them.

"Threatening to release it to schools, educators, families, unless there is a return of more sexually explicit content,” Anderson said.

And the predator does their homework, researching their next victim as much as possible online.

“And then they will go through and exploit their social media accounts or their gaming communities and that's how they find these networks of people and choose to say, you know, if you don't send me more sexually explicit content, I will then exploit you,” Anderson said.

The FBI says it can take an emotional toll causing anxiety, humiliation and fear.

That's why this national campaign aims at preventing sextortion from happening with these tips:

  1. Be selective about what you share online.
  2. Block or ignore messages from strangers.
  3. Be suspicious of meeting someone on a game or app that asks you to talk to them on a different platform.
  4. Be willing to ask for help if you have become a victim.

The suspect in Ashley Reynolds' case is serving a 105-year sentence for his crimes.

"I want to help someone who is in this situation that gets overlooked all the time. We weren`t raped. We are overlooked because nobody actually touched us."

Efforts to stop sextortion for future generations.

For more tips and resources about sextortion, click here.

If you’ve been a victim do not delete the content and call 1-800-CALL FBI or go online at TIPS.FBI.GOV.

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