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Beware Sextortion of Teenage Boys

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KSFR reporter Mary Lou Cooper talked with fraud expert Steven Weisman about financial sextortion of teenage boys.

Sextortion is what happens when a con artist pretends to be a young girl seeking sexually explicit videos or photos of a young teenage boy “she” meets while playing an on-line video or on social media.

In reality, the sextortionist is likely to be an adult male from West Africa or some far-flung country who is masquerading as a young girl. Once the targeted boy provides sexual videos, the game is up. The scammer then blackmails the boy, demanding substantial sums of money to keep from publishing the video or photo.

According to the FBI, these financial sextortion crimes have increased in recent years involving thousands of victims and at least 20 suicides.

Weisman advises parents to speak frankly with teens about sextortion. Teens should be made aware that sharing explicit sexual activity on-line can result in extortion and public embarrassment.

If you or someone you know believes they are a victim of sextortion, report it to the FBI by dialing 1-800-CALL-FBI.

Steven Weisman is a frequent guest on KSFR talking about consumer scams.  He is the publisher of the consumer protection newsletter Scamicide.  Weisman is also an attorney and professor of white-collar crime at Bentley University in Amherst, Massachusetts.     

Mary Lou Cooper reports on consumer issues for KSFR as well as on politics and elder affairs. She has worked for the U.S. Congress as well as for the Nevada and Tennessee legislatures, and remains a political junkie. She worked many years for an association of Western state legislatures and was a contributor to “Capitol Ideas,” a national magazine about state government. In 2016 Cooper received a public service award from the New Mexico Broadcasting Association for her KSFR story on Internet romance scams. She has received journalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and from the National Federation of Press Women. She grew up in Oak Ridge, TN and received her BA from Emory University in Atlanta and her MA from the University of Texas Austin. She also holds fiction and screenwriting certificates from the University of Washington.