BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WFRV) – Sextortion is a crime on the rise nationwide, and in Brown County, the sheriff’s department deals with them on a weekly basis.
Sextortion is when a person pretends to be someone else over the internet, convinces others, mostly teenagers, to send nude photographs, and threatens to post the photos online unless they send money.
Victims may sometimes find it difficult to come to terms with what has happened. Sergeant Matthew Wilson with the sheriff’s department says, “After it’s all said and done, they figure it out because obviously once they send the cash or send the gift cards, they figure something’s not right, but in the moment, unfortunately, they just don’t get it.”
To find out who is responsible for committing sextortion, police track an IP address. According to CBS News, the FBI received more than 7,0000 reports related to the crime last year, with most of them originating in Nigeria and the Ivory Coast.
Some ways to avoid being sextorted include using context clues to see if a profile is legitimate. If they will not show their face, it might not be safe to trust them. Additionally, avoid revealing your location and try to keep your social media profiles private.
Wilson says, “I know it’s the cool thing now for kids to have thousands of friends, but really, who do they know out of that friend group? The perpetrators always threaten to send [the photos] to your family, and the way they do that is through your open profile because you probably have your mom, your aunt, your uncle, tagged in the family portion of Facebook or another social media platform.”
While teens are the most targeted in sextortion cases, Wilson also says it is important to remember that anyone can be a victim.