Regional News

FBI-Portland Offers Sextortion Prevention Tips

PORTLAND, OR -- FBI-Portland is ramping up efforts to prevent child sextortion, after seeing  a massive increase in sextortion in recent years. "From out to Prineville, to Bend, to Medford to Eugene and here in Portland, to the coast. It is happening everywhere," Supervisory Special Agent Travis Ostrem told parents during a Wednesday webinar.

The crime involving explicit images of children boils down to blackmail and there are two forms: Financial and Traditional. "Financial sextortion, where the predators are looking for monetary gain from the children, to stop them from sending images. We’ve also sextortion, which is the typical child exploitation of sexual images, where they’re asking for additional images."

He urges parents to start talking with kids early about the dangers of sending any photos online. Predators target victims as young as 11. He also suggested parents monitor the apps children are using, set parental controls and know who kids are talking to online, "Technology is growing faster than we can control it. But you all can get ahead of it. Look out for your children." 

A similar webinar was offered last week to school administrators. "We’re trying to be proactive because we don’t want any more of these cases. If we can eliminate it, just like getting drugs out of the schools from our kids, eliminate sextortion," said Ostrem. "Sextortion is on a massive rise. We’re seeing it throughout, not just the country but in Oregon too. In every portion of the state, if there is some type of wifi or cellular connection to the internet, children can be sextorted." He notes Oregon cases have increased by 20%, and at least 20 resulted in the victim taking their own life. "One suicide is too many. One child being sextorted is too many. The damage that can do to mental health is horrible. What we see normally is one predator will target up to a hundred victims."

FBI-Portland hosts a chat on X - formerly Twitter - Thursday at noon to answer more questions about protecting kids from sextortion. 

 

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