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By Mark Moran - Producer-Editor, Contact - News

 

Big Sky Connection - Authorities report a dramatic increase in the number of sextortion cases across the country, and Montana matches the national trend. The FBI is raising awareness during January, Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Comments from Curtis Cox, FBI special agent.

Click on the image above for the audio. The majority of victims in sextortion cases are boys between the ages of 13 and 17, targeted by online scammers pretending to be females, according to the FBI. (Adobe Stock)

Mark Moran

January 24, 2024 - The FBI reports an alarming rise in the number of sextortion cases in Montana, reflecting a national trend. The agency is drawing attention to the issue in January, which is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

When predators pose as someone else online and lure victims into taking and sending sexually explicit photos and videos, then threaten to send the photos to the victim's family and friends unless they pay, it's known as sextortion.

Curtis Cox, special agent for the FBI, said the numbers are up dramatically.

"We're seeing a 20% increase in the number of sextortion cases reported nationally," Cox reported. "We know that there's a similar increase in the number of cases being reported in Montana."

Cox urged victims to report the threatening person's social media account to the nearest FBI field office and not be afraid to ask for help from police. Tips may be submitted online tips.fbi.gov.

Cox pointed out people often assume these types of crimes target women but in many sextortion incidents, that is not the case.

"These cases typically involve young male victims between the age of 13 to 17," Cox explained. "We see some younger. They get contacted by someone typically on Instagram or Snapchat purporting to be a young female. The bad actor, who is posing as a teenage girl, will send a nude picture and request one in return."

Cox noted the extortion threat often causes victims to panic and pay the perpetrator, which he said they should never do. He added there has been an alarming increase in the number of suicides associated with sextortion cases.

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