Citing ‘explosion’ in child sextortion cases, feds issue safety alert

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Citing an “explosion” of online sextortion cases involving children, federal authorities Monday issued an unusual national public safety alert in an attempt to intervene in increasingly aggressive schemes linked to more than a dozen suicides in the past year.

At least 3,000 victims, primarily boys, have been identified as targets in operations largely originating outside the U.S., in which children are being coerced into sending explicit images online and then extorted for money.

More:More than 200 human trafficking victims, including children, found in nationwide FBI operation

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray testifies before the House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 10, 2021, in Washington.

Federal officials, describing “desperate” accounts from young victims, said the number of incidents in the first six months of 2022 represented a 1,000% increase from the same period last year.

On a variety of online platforms, from gaming and social media sites to chatrooms, predators are often using fake female accounts to target boys, between 14 to 17 years old. Some victims are as young as 10, the FBI said.