ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — The St. Petersburg Police Department and FBI Tampa division announced a partnership to battle online ‘sextortion‘ in a news conference on Thursday.
St. Pete Police Chief Anthony Holloway and FBI Tampa Special Agent in Charge David Walker urged parents to discuss online safety with their teenagers, especially young boys.
The FBI describes sextortion as, “cases where victims are befriended on social media and dating apps and asked to share nude photos. Once they send the photos, they are threatened that unless they send money, their photos will be shared with their friends and family.”
Both agencies reported seeing a recent spike in sextortion cases involving teenage boys.
“We want to raise awareness about sextortion and prevent this from happening,” Holloway said. “The solution is simple: Don’t send nude photos. Your image could last a lifetime on the internet.”
The agencies released a public service announcement video showing how easily a teenager can fall for an online sextortion scheme. The video urges victims not to give in to the predator and to talk to a trusted adult.
“You are not in trouble. You are not alone,” the on-screen text reads.
“If there’s one thing I want teens to know it’s this: The person asking you for a nude photo is not who you think it is,” Walker said. “Parents, please have an open and honest conversation with your child about sextortion. Make it clear they are not to blame and will not be in trouble if they’ve become a victim.”
To learn more about keeping children safe online, visit the FBI’s Stop Sextortion campaign website.