PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The FBI Portland field office warns there has been an increase in sextortion crimes targeting teenage boys across the nation.

According to the FBI, sextortion often starts with an adult making contact with a minor through an online platform, like social media or a game.

In this particular scheme, the adult pretends to be a young girl to convince the teen boy — usually 14 to 17 years old — to partake in sexual activity over video. The FBI says the predator then records it and later threatens to post the content online, unless the teen pays them.

“It is hard to imagine anyone doing this to children. Literally exploiting their innocence for money,” said FBI Portland Special Agent in Charge Kieran L. Ramsey. The fraudsters earn their trust, then demand money to keep explicit photos a secret. This is a true example of how dire and disgusting criminals can be.”

Officials say children should tell someone if this is happening as it can help law enforcement identify the predator and could prevent others from being sexually exploited.

The FBI provides the following tips to protect you and your children online:

  • Be selective about what you share online, especially your personal information and     
    passwords. If your social media accounts are open to everyone, a predator may be able to
    figure out a lot of information about you or your children.
  • Be wary of anyone you encounter for the first time online. Block or ignore messages from
  • Be aware that people can pretend to be anything or anyone online. Videos and photos are
    not proof that a person is who they claim to be.
  • Be suspicious if you meet someone on a game or app and they ask you to start talking to
    them on a different platform.
  • Encourage your children to report suspicious behavior to a trusted adult.

If you believe you or someone you know is the victim of sextortion:

  • Contact the Portland FBI field office, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center or the National Center for
    Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-the-lost or Cybertipline.org.
  • Do not delete anything before law enforcement is able to review it.
  • Tell law enforcement everything about the encounters you had online; it may be
    embarrassing, but it is necessary to find the offender.

The FBI says the IC3 received more than 18,000 sextortion-related complaints in 2021 with nearly $13.6 million loss.