Federal Authorities Warn of Rising ‘Sextortion’ in Social Media
In a recent news release from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), it was announced that 255 suspected child predators were arrested during the 5-week online sting operation, iGuardian.
In the iGuardian investigations, authorities also identified 61 new victims of online exploitation. Experts warn that the rise in online child exploitation incidents directly correlates to the increasing popularity of social media.
Authorities Warn of Sextortion Trends and Social Media
“Child abusers prowl social media looking for opportunities to force young people into sexual exploitation through guile, deceit, and extortion… [we] cannot arrest ourselves out of this problem” – ICE Director John Morton (as published in NBC News report)
ICE Director John Morton commented that investigators have identified a growing trend of online predators using a tactic authorities have labeled ‘sextortion.’ After deceiving children into sending suggestive photos, the abusers then proceed to blackmail the victims into sending more graphic photos by threatening to upload the original photos online or send them to the victims’ friends and family.
Results of the ICE Sextortion Investigation
Published on ice.gov
- 225 suspected child predators have been arrested.
- 20 have been charged with online sexual enticement of a minor.
- 2 of the sexual enticement charges have been escalated to charges of sextortion of multiple victims.
- The other 235 faced various combinations of the following charges: child pornography production, possession and distribution of child pornography, traveling with the intent to have sex with a minor, and various other offenses, including rape and molestation.
- ICE officials have arrested another 1,674 people in similar investigations in the past fiscal year alone.
Michelle Collins of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children asks parents to communicate to their children the dangers of online predators reminding parents that they are the best weapon have to prevent their own children from becoming victims. She also stated that it is important for parents to emphasize that a person online is not necessarily who they say they are, especially on social media websites.
ICE urges victims and the parents of victims to report any incidents to the website where the incident occurred and to legal authorities.
Contact an Experienced Child Injury Attorney
If you believe your child has suffered from sexual abuse, contact Thomas J. Henry immediately. We have the knowledge and experience to handle your child’s case. We will also take immediate action to prevent any further mistreatment.
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