Teen Boys at Risk in Webcam Extortion Cases

Head up parents! There are some new crime stats out of the UK that may make you reconsider what kind of risks your teens may encounter online.

The UK National Crime Agency reported this week that cases of webcam extortion for financial gain are up over 100% this year, with 864 reported cases vs. 385 last year, and the year isn’t over yet. We haven’t seen similar statistics reported here in the U.S.

The real eye opener from these numbers (for us) was that in 95% of the reported incidents, the victim was male. The largest population of victims was men aged 21 – 30, but boys between 11 and 20 form a “substantial portion.”

We, and parents we talk to, have assumed that females are more at risk of this type of threat, but these UK statistics tell another story.

The agency implies that normal boy-girl online relationships are not what are driving these numbers. social-media-sleepRather:

  • Professional criminals are posing as available females online in an attempt to lure young men into a relationship
  • Bad actors are posing as gay men online, again attempting to establish an intimate online relationship with a gay man

In either case, the victim is enticed to send a nude video to the perpetrator. The perp then uses the threat of posting that video publicly online, or sending it to the victim’s relatives, friends or even his boss, as a means to extort money.

This isn’t just a UK phenomenon. A Minnesota man was sentenced to 38 years in prison this month after pleading guilty to sextortion in 155 cases involving teenage boys over a four-year period. In some cases he posed as a young girl; in others he claimed to represent a modeling agency.

A spokesperson from the UK’s National Crime Agency describes this as a large global “business” where the bad guys are often overseas and do not feel like they at risk of being caught.

Risk of being exposed or potential financial loss isn’t the only downside here. The UK reports that webcam extortion has led to 4 victims committing suicide.

We didn’t think that catfishing would become a big business, but perhaps it has. The one and only defense against this is to make sure you know, and your teens know – without a shadow of a doubt – who you are talking to online before committing any intimate acts.

 

 

If your teen or tween is active online and you are having trouble keeping up, we can help. We respect your kids’ privacy and give you the tools you need to be a better digital parent. The ThirdParent initial audit is now FREE (previously a $49 value). Ongoing monitoring is $15 per month and you can cancel at any time. Click here to sign up today!

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

 

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Sextortion Cases Are On the Rise

Bad news for parents: according to New Jersey law enforcement officials and the FBI, sextortion cases are on the rise, and far too many of then go unreported.

sextortionSextortion is the act of coercing or blackmailing a victim – often a minor – to obtain compromising or nude photos or video using the threat of exposing the victim to family and friends, usually by sharing previously taken images.

The sinister set up is fairly simple. The perpetrator, usually an older man, sets up a fake social media or messaging app profile and pretends to be a teen around the age of his intended victims. He then sends friend requests and messages until he has established a “relationship” with a victim. After an initial exchange of images, he will ask for more that are increasingly intimate. Once the victim has sent one that is scandalous enough that the victim would be mortified if her friends or family found out, the perp threatens to do just that unless more media is delivered. This can go on for a long time and usually ends badly.

If your child has a smartphone, laptop or computer and at least occasional unrestricted access, he or she is potentially at risk. What are parents to do?

Communicate – Begin talking to your child about the risks of both meeting strangers online and sending risqué images before they are given their first connected device. If they already have one, start talking now, even if the child is young.

Monitor – You don’t need to track every keystroke, but you should be generally aware of what you child or doing online, and who she in talking to.

Be available – Your child should know, without any doubt, that any time she feels uncomfortable or at risk because of something happening online she can come to you. Even if what she has done to get into the situation was stupid, put off sending that message until you’ve rectified the problem. Use difficult situations as learning opportunities.

It’s tempting to think that since you’ve raised a “good kid”, this could never happen to him or her. It does, so try to stay on top of things.

 

 

The ThirdParent initial audit is now FREE (previously a $49 value). Ongoing monitoring is $15 per month and you can cancel at any time. Click here to sign up today!

 

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe online. You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter below.