San Francisco FBI warns of rise in ‘sextortion’ crimes targeting teens

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — The FBI’s San Francisco field office is warning of an increased effort to coerce young boys into producing sexually explicit material via the Internet.

The phenomenon is commonly referred to as “sextortion”, which usually occurs through a social media platform.

The predator will meet a young person on an online platform posing as a young girl with the aim of tricking a teenager into sending him a sexually explicit video or photo.

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San Francisco FBI Supervisor Dan Costin explains what criminals do after receiving an image of the victim, who he says is usually a teenage girl.

“Once that image is traded, they continue to use it to try to extort more additional images or money by keeping the images that the victims ignored,” Costin said.

The predators then demand more money from the victim by threatening to share the footage with the victim’s friends.

The FBI says that in recent years they have seen an increase in predators pretending to be young girls in hopes of coercing boys into sending material.

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Costin says the advice is simple, don’t share images with people you don’t know.

“Make sure the person you’re talking to is someone you trust, that you have a relationship, that you know someone, and that you don’t want to reveal all of your secrets that you just met an hour ago. You should be more careful in what we share with strangers, whether face-to-face or online, the lesson is the same,” Costin says.

Costin adds that a red flag is if the conversation escalates from “hello” to a request for sexual content.

If you think you or someone you know is a victim of sextortion:

  • Contact the FBI San Francisco at 415-553-7400 or online via, or contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (1-800-the-lost or
  • Don’t delete anything until law enforcement is able to review it.
  • Tell law enforcement all about the encounters you have had online; it may be annoying, but you have to find the culprit.
  • If you’re on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live

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