Lazy eyes listen
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has issued a warning to both parents and children about the prevalence of west African criminals who prey on teenage males online and threaten to expose sexual images of the victims if the victims do not pay.
According to Cleveland.com, which cited a recent FBI warning, “That lady from a local high school who is chatting up your teenager son on Facebook or Instagram may potentially be a criminal from West Africa.”
Through messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger or Instagram, predators primarily target males between the ages of 13 and 17 while posing as young girls from the area. Prior to using the received images or videos as blackmail, they first share explicit images with the adolescents and then encourage them to provide some of their own.
The thieves, who are frequently from Nigeria or the Ivory Coast, then threaten to release the pictures in public and demand cash or gift cards. The cycle of “shame, anxiety, and confusion” that victims frequently experience can keep them from reporting crimes.
“The FBI has seen a horrific increase in reports of financial sextortion schemes targeting minor boys,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray in a statement. “The fact is that the many victims who are afraid to come forward are not even included in those numbers.”
The FBI defines “sextortion” as “a serious crime that occurs when someone threatens to distribute your private and sensitive material if you do not provide them with images of a sexual nature, sexual favors, or money,” and in just eight months in 2022, authorities have received over 7,000 reports of online financial “sextortion.”
Even though they are frequently paid, the predators continue to publish the violent photographs, according to report.
More than 12 of the at least 3,000 victims of the aforementioned atrocities have taken their own lives. Some of the victims were as young as 10 years old, according to reports from the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
According to the government authorities, the predators’ profiles frequently “emerge out of nowhere” before they “rapidly convert the conversation to sharing pornographic photographs and videos.”
Authorities advise young people to be wary of anyone they meet online who they don’t know in person, especially if they start having sexually explicit conversations with them.