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FBI warns of sextortion targeting Utah teenagers

Computer graphic of a Herald Journal newspaper
The Herald Journal

Late Friday morning, the FBI’s Salt Lake City office sent out a press release and video to news outlets all over Utah, warning of a trend in sextortion—a practice of exhorting victims to meet demands by threatening to release compromising sexual images or information.

The press release focuses on a niche category of the criminal practice, saying it “begins when an adult contacts a minor over any online platform” and leads to “manipulation to convince a young male, usually 12 to 17 years old, to exchange sexually explicit photos or engage in explicit activity over video.” The predatory criminal then threatens to release the individual’s sexual material if demands are not met.

The video shared tells the story of a young man in Montana who found himself in a similar situation. His mother anonymously spoke about the experience, sharing about her teenage son sending sexually explicit material to who he thought was a girl his age.

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This story is made possible thanks to a community reporting partnership between The Herald Journal and Utah Public Radio.