MIAMI - Broward County Public Schools said there are growing concerns ofamong young students.
Sextortion happens when a criminal establishes a relationship online with a teen and obtains sexually suggestive photos to later blackmail the teen for more explicit content or money.
The BCPS along with the Sheriff's Office teamed up Friday to put a warning out to the community. They said they are losing students to suicide because of sextortion.
"Our members at ICAC, the Internet Crimes Against Children, are constantly dealing with different investigations related to sextortion, or any type of use of technology to try to bring in these kids," Sheriff Gregory Tony said.
It's real, it's here, and Sheriff Tony said everyone needs to be informed.
"Here in Broward County, probably average about five cases a week," Sgt. To McIntyre said.
They said there's a shift in boys males being targeted more than girls females.
"Mainly because I think males are more apt to send a photo sometimes when you find a pretty girl flirting with them online," McIntyre said. "It's strictly for financial gain."
Schools and parents can help educate kids.
"So our kids when they're online, they think before they send, they think twice, am I talking to another girl? Or am I talking to somebody overseas who's going to try and extort me?" McIntyre said, "and then when they do get themselves in a trick bag, they have some tools or some ideas of where to turn."
Former FBI special agent and current criminal law attorney Stuart Kaplan says he sees this every day, and the victims are younger and younger as parents give their kids phones at a younger age.
"The unfortunate thing is children live within the moment, they live within the day, it's very difficult to explain to children that something you may do today may have consequences for the rest of your life," Kaplan said. There is a disconnect."
He said more often than not, the victim will pay the criminal not to release the photos anywhere from a hundred to thousands of dollars, but there's nothing to stop them from asking for more money or releasing it anyway. So as hard as the conversation is to have, he said go to the police.
"If you believe it's to the level where there's a professional on the other line who is doing this professionally, victimizing children, I absolutely will tell you, I implore you, to go to the local police department, file a police report, and see if in fact, they can track down this individual," Kaplan said.
There are professional criminals engaging in sextortion, but everyone Friday wanted to make it clear, people you know can do this to you too, not just strangers.
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