The dangers of 'sextortion:' how to protect yourself – WLUC

Western U.P., Mich. (WLUC) – Sextortion may be a new term for some people.
Law enforcement wants you to know more to protect your loved ones. “It could be demanding money or it could be demanding more explicit photos,” Marquette County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Andy Griffin says about predators’ main goal with sextortion.
According to the FBI Washington Field Office, cases of sextortion have been increasing. The bureau’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received over 18,000 reports in 2021, with victims losing over $13.6 million.
Sextortion begins when a predator, usually pretending to be a young girl befriends a young person, usually a man online. “The idea is that the predator will convince the young person to produce some sort of explicit video or image. They then put pressure on the young person to continue to provide that material by threatening exposure,”
In cases like Marquette High School senior Jordan DeMay’s, the predator asked for money. But sextortion never has to get to the point where someone loses their life, let alone happen at all.
Chief Assistant Prosecutor Griffin says it’s never a good idea to message someone you have not met in person. This is one step to preventing sextortion from happening. Always be mindful of friend requests you receive on social media, and don’t accept a request from someone you don’t know or if the account seems fishy.
“Somebody will make a duplicate profile of an existing one so you might get a second friend request from somebody you’re already friends with and you don’t realize that it’s not your friend it’s somebody else and then they start talking with you,” Griffin said of some tactics predators use to try and befriend young people online.
This is one of the many ways a predator could try to exploit someone. That person has power once they have explicit photos.
If it gets to this point, Michigan State Police Detective Sergeant Johnathan Walden says you should immediately reach out to someone you trust. This could be a parent, teacher, counselor, or friend. “The main thing you have to do if you get stuck in a situation like this is talk to somebody,” Detective Sergeant Walden said. “If this person is doing it to you they’re more than likely doing it to someone else.”
If you are a victim of sextortion, the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. Reporting your situation is the best way out, even if it seems embarrassing to say something. It could save your life and help law enforcement catch a predator.
If you are currently being exploited by someone online, there are many resources to help.
You can report your situation to the Michigan State Police’s ‘OK2SAY’ program to make an anonymous tip. That outlet can be found by clicking here.
Additionally, the FBI has a resource to learn even more about sextortion. A list of stories from survivors of sextortion can be found by clicking here.
There are also contact links for the FBI if you need to report your situation. Those can be found by clicking here.
You can also call 911 at any time to report your situation to law enforcement. For a list of suicide prevention resources, visit TV6′s list by clicking here.
Remember, you are not alone as a victim of sextortion!
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