CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WNCN) — The FBI Charlotte Field Office is warning parents, caregivers, and teens about an increase in sextortion crimes across the country.

The FBI is receiving an increasing number of reports of adults posing as young girls coercing teenage boys through social media to produce sexual images and videos to extort money from minor victims.

FBI Charlotte has received 29 reports of sextortion so far in 2022. In 23 of those reports, the criminals demanded money from mostly male victims.

Sextortion begins when an adult contacts a minor over an online platform used to meet and communicate. The predator uses deception and manipulation to convince a young male to engage in explicit activity over video, secretly recorded by the scammer.

The scammer then reveals that they have made the recordings and attempts to extort the victim for money, threatening the victim to pay or have the explicit photos or videos posted online.

The coercion of a child by an adult to produce what is considered Child Sexual Abuse Material carries heavy penalties, which can include up to a life sentence for the offender.

“The FBI will not tolerate online predators targeting our children. We will continue to work with our state and local partners to protect our children from sextortion crimes and hold these criminals accountable,” said FBI Charlotte Special Agent in Charge Robert R. Wells.

The FBI provides the following tips to protect you and your children online:

  • Be selective about what you share online
  • Be wary of anyone you encounter for the first time online. Block or ignore messages from strangers.
  • Be aware that people can pretend to be anything or anyone online. Videos and photos are not proof that a person is who they claim to be.
  • Be suspicious if you meet someone on a game or app and they ask you to start talking to them on a different platform.
  • Encourage children to report suspicious behavior to a trusted adult.

If you believe you or someone you know is the victim of sextortion:

  • Contact local law enforcement or the FBI at tips.fbi.gov or the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.ic3.gov
  • Do not delete anything on your device before law enforcement is able to review it.
  • Tell law enforcement everything about the encounters you had online