The school district has recently been made aware that young people in the state have been targeted by what appear to be professional criminals engaging in “sextortion.”
Sextortion is a type of online blackmail in which a perpetrator threatens to release nude images of a victim unless the victim agrees to pay money or provide something else of value. Sextortion happens everyday all over the world. It can begin on smartphones, computers, and game consoles and often involves a game, app, or social media account. Unfortunately, these sextortionists have targeted some students in Nebraska. We have learned that individuals pretending to be young and desirable have attempted to convince our school students to provide them with nude or otherwise compromising photographs through Instagram or other electronic means. The FBI offers guidance such as:
Be selective about what you share online. If your social media accounts are open to everyone, a predator may be able to figure out a lot of information about you.
Be wary of anyone you encounter for the first time online. Block or ignore messages from strangers.
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. Images can be altered or stolen.
Be suspicious if you meet someone on one game or app and they ask you to start talking to them on a different platform.
Be in the know. Any content you create online—whether it is a text message, photo, or video—can be made public. And once you send something, you don’t have any control over where it goes next.
Be willing to ask for help. If you are getting messages or requests online that don’t seem right, block the sender, report the behavior to the site administrator, or go to an adult. If you have been victimized online, tell someone.
You can find more information about sextortion from the FBI here: https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/stop-sextortion-youth-face-risk-online-090319.
Please be careful and be on guard online! Don’t open attachments or click on links from people you don’t know. If you have been the victim of sextortion, please feel free to contact a school administrator or counselor at your school or law enforcement.