Parents warned about increase in ‘sextortion’ schemes targeting kids

By: - May 19, 2022 5:35 pm

(Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

LINCOLN — Nebraska law enforcement officials warned parents Thursday to be on the lookout for internet blackmailers fooling children into sending them sexually explicit photos and videos.

In the scheme, known as “sextortion,” blackmailers pose as close-in-age peers or love interests on social media. After receiving images, they threaten to release them or show them to the victim’s parents unless they are paid. They might even threaten the safety of the youth’s family.

It is a serious crime, said the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office and Nebraska State Patrol in a joint news release Thursday.

The agencies urged parents or guardians of child victims to report sextortion cases to the FBI Omaha office at 402-493-8688 or call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678.

The agencies said perpetrators, who pose as young boys or girls, approach children through social media before moving to more private messaging and video apps.

After establishing a “secret or special relationship,” the predator begins to ask for sexually explicit images and/or videos of the child, offering something of value for the images.

Additional information on sextortion can be found on the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office website.

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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska Legislature and Nebraska state government for decades. He started his career reporting for the Omaha Sun and later, editing the Papillion Times group in suburban Omaha. He joined the Lincoln Journal-Star as a sports enterprise reporter, and then a roving reporter covering southeast Nebraska. In 1990, he was hired by the Omaha World-Herald as a legislative reporter. Later, for 15 years, he roamed the state covering all kinds of news and feature stories. In the past decade, he served as chief of the Lincoln Bureau and enterprise reporter. Paul has won awards for reporting from Great Plains Journalism, the Associated Press, Nebraska Newspaper Association and Suburban Newspapers of America. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation, a member of the Nebraska Hop Growers and a volunteer caretaker of Irvingdale Park in Lincoln.