‘Sextortion’ scam targeting Stone County children
STONE COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - Stone County law enforcement officers are investigating two cases of a disturbing social media scam targeting school-age teenagers.
“These children are being led into sending nude photos and then they’re being extorted for money,” said Sgt. Steve Taylor of Wiggins Police Department.
He tells WLOX News that a stranger will pose as a teen and lure victims into exchanging nude photographs on social media apps like Kik and Snapchat. Then, the victims are threatened: if they don’t send the imposter money, the photos will be leaked online.
“Most kids don’t realize what they’re doing when they get involved with it,” said Capt. Charles Willison, Stone County School Resource Officer. “To the parents, I’d say make sure you’re watching what your kids are doing because it is something little that can turn into something big.”
When it comes to catching these cybercriminals, the chances are slim.
“We have several tactics where we can try and find the perpetrators, but we’re having a hard time doing it because most of them are in foreign countries,” Sgt. Taylor said.
The best defense against a child falling victim to this scam starts at home with the parents.
“Most the time, it comes down to -- well, I didn’t realize my kid was even on this social media app,” Capt. Willison said. “Kids are very smart and they know how to get around some of this stuff, and we just try to make sure that parents are aware that these apps are out there, and yes, students are using them.”
On Feb. 27, Sgt. Taylor and Capt. Willison will host a meeting for parents to learn about these important issues and the impacts these crimes can have on children. It starts at 6 p.m. at the Ferris O’Neal Senior Center in Wiggins.
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