ATLANTA — Atlanta’s FBI office says holiday scams are on the rise—including gift card frauds, fake charitable causes and package delivery scams. But, the biggest increase is in sextortion crimes targeting children.
The FBI says its received 7,000 reports related to online financial sextortion of minors—mostly boys—resulting in 3,000 victims. Investigators say cyber criminals use social media sites to lure victims typically between 14 and 17 and pretend to create fake female accounts.
“Sextortion is a term we use when a child is communicating to someone online that they may be another child but is not and not a child. They ask the victim child for images of them naked,” said Keith Kabrhel, Supervisory Special Agent.
Predators will request explicit pictures from victims and then hold them at ransom to expose them online if they don’t fork up a fee.
“Sextortion scams typically target teenage boys most often through social media sites like Facebook or Tik Tok or any place that would allow video chat,” Supervisory Special Agent Chad Hunt said.
“If it’s a sexually motivated sextortion, it’s a girl. If it’s a financially motivated mostly likely is a boy,” Kabrhel stated.
FBI agents say holiday scams and online crimes are up in Georgia and specifically target kids who are home and on their digital devices for longer periods of time.
Kabrhel said, “One of the rules is appropriate use of the devices—those devices are not allowed in the private areas like bedrooms or bathrooms.”
The FBI says the criminals are usually based out of the country.