The Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Centre for Missing & Exploited Children, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, National Crime Agency, and Toronto Police Service have issued a joint alert on a global financial sextortion perpetrated by perpetrators “often adults based in West Africa.”
The joint warning was issued on Tuesday by the FBI, citing the “explosion” of cases of little boys being forced to send sexually explicit pictures via the internet and later “and extorted for money.”
The VOA reporting on the joint warning stated that “on gaming sites and video chat applications, predators, often adults based in West Africa and posing as young girls, trick victims into sending them explicit videos or photos and then threaten to release the material unless they send money or gift cards.”
The FBI said it received in 2022 “thousands of reports related to the financial sextortion of minors, primarily boys, representing an exponential increase from previous years.”
“Unfortunately, the FBI is also aware of more than a dozen suicides following these incidents. Today, on Safer Internet Day, we are urging children and caregivers to educate themselves about this crime and help us protect others from being victimised,” FBI director Christopher Wray said, warning that financial sextortion has a far wider impact than just our country and our kids—it is a global crisis that demands everyone’s attention.”
The joint alert explained that predators use digital platforms like social media, gaming websites, or video chat applications, posing “as girls of a similar age and use fake accounts to target young boys, deceiving them” into sending explicit photos or videos.
“The predator then threatens to release the compromising materials unless the victim sends payment, however, in many cases, the predator will release the images anyway,” the statement said.
Gord Sage, chief superintendent of Sensitive and Specialised Investigative Services at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, stated that the international police “are united in our fight against these crimes.”
Robert Jones, the chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce at the NCA, explained that “there is an arsenal of preventative tools available globally to support caregivers, professionals and young people such as the Safer Internet Day activities, and the CEOP Education website in the UK.”
According to Myron Demkiw, the police chief of the Toronto Police Service, online sexual offences do not have borders.
“We all have a role to play in protecting our children and youth, and partnerships like this will ensure we are raising awareness and effectively sharing prevention information around these harmful crimes, not just locally but around the world,” said Mr Demkiw.
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