MN Dept. of Public Safety: ‘Sextortion’ is a growing issue

KEYC News Now at 6 Recording
Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 12:27 PM CST
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KEYC) - Minnesota officials addressed the growing ‘Sextortion’ issue at a press conference this morning.

“I just want to say that as a grandparent of children this age, I cannot stress enough that while we can in our investigating these crimes that are working to hold criminals accountable. We need parents to help us prevent this crime from happening in the first place,” said Bob Jacobson, Commissioner, MN Department of Public Safety.

One Minnesota mom shared her son’s experience of how he met someone he thought was a girl his age online. In reality it was a criminal from overseas. Something the teen didn’t realize until he had shared intimate photos of himself. That’s when the extortion began.

“The first request was for $400. And his response was that I’m 14 years old. I don’t have that kind of money,” said the Minnesota mother.

Law enforcement defines “sextortion” as tricking victims into sharing explicit photos then extorting them for money, more photos, or sometimes for sex. The department has seen an increase in criminals targeting children and teens.

“While boys are the primary target of the crimes, young girls are being targeted too,” said Drew Evans, Superintendent, MN Bureau of Criminal Apprehension

Last year, over 3,000 minor victims were targeted in the U.S.

“If the money is never provided the blackmailer releases the photos on social media in some cases, they’ve released photos even after the money is sent. Tragically these crimes have led to more than a dozen young people committing (attempting) suicide across the United States in the past year,” said Evans.

Authorities and experts ask parents and caregivers to engage in conversations about the danger of sextortion. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has steps parents and caregivers can take if their child becomes a victim: Get help before deciding to pay. Cooperating with the demands rarely stops the extortion or harassment. Report the predator’s account using the platform’s safety feature.

And block the predator but do not delete the profile or messages; they could be useful to law enforcement.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children can also help can you get images removed from the internet if a predator posts them.

More information is on their website: