FBI warns of sex crimes against boys in St. Louis area

ST. LOUIS – There’s a new alert from the FBI’s St. Louis office about a frightening trend in sex crimes targeting local teenagers called sextortion.

Predators reach their victims through victims’ cell phones and not just through traditional social media channels like Instagram or Snapchat. Gaming apps or any app with chat function are vulnerable.

The FBI reports that they get new cases in the St. Louis area every week.

According to Special Agent in Charge Jay Greenberg, it starts with seemingly harmless messages during online gaming or chatting.

“They’re being blackmailed because these predators think they’re more likely to pay,” he said. “We actually get multiple referrals a week in the St. Louis area for underage victims who are being tormented for additional pictures and/or money.”

Greenberg described a scenario investigators typically see: a predator posing as another teenager or young adult ends up sending illegal photos and asking the victim for photos in return.

After receiving illegal photos from the victim, the perpetrator threatens to send the photos to the victim’s school, family or friends, or post them online unless the victim pays small amounts of $5 to $25. So far, victims and parents in the St. Louis area have been reluctant to go public.

Pauline Stuart from California wants parents to be vigilant and proactive in their children’s online activities after what happened to her son Ryan.

“He just couldn’t handle the pressure, so he took his own life,” Stuart said.

After an initial $5,000 demand from a predator in May, Ryan paid $150. More was asked for. Ryan committed suicide. he was 17

Ryan Stuart was one of more than a dozen victims in the past year, according to the FBI. A suspect was arrested last month. The FBI reports at least 3,000 US casualties in the past year, with most programs originating in West Africa.

“These children live in fear every day. They may be told to send a picture or video when they wake up. Before they go to bed, they must send a picture or video. As soon as they get out of school, they have to send a picture or video,” Greenberg said. “It’s not a drop in the ocean. This is constant harassment of our children. We really need to get our kids and let them know if you make a mistake, that’s okay.”

Contacting law enforcement is a surefire way to stop this, he said.

For help, call 1-800-CALL-FBI or report online.

Meanwhile, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is offering help in obtaining sexually exploitative material removed from online sources.

For more informations

FBI: Common Scams and Crimes – Sextortion
missing children: Is your explicit content out there?

https://fox2now.com/news/missouri/fbi-warns-about-sex-crimes-targeting-young-boys-in-st-louis-area/ FBI warns of sex crimes against boys in St. Louis area

Sarah Y. Kim

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