CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Sextortion attempts occurring daily, Weber detective warns

Apr 22, 2024, 7:05 AM | Updated: 8:36 am

Sextortion demographics explained...

Detective Dustin Stewart presents demographical statistics about online predators during an internet safety presentation at the Weber County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday. (Sky Mundell, KSL.com)

(Sky Mundell, KSL.com)

OGDEN — Weber County sheriff’s deputies want parents to know the risks of allowing children unrestricted access to the internet, and how to prevent them from becoming the victim of a sextortion scheme.

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“This happens every single day,” said Dustin Stewart, an Internet Crimes Against Children task force detective with the Weber County Sheriff’s Office. He said parents should be concerned about letting their children use the internet unrestricted or without close supervision because of the growing and increasingly devious practices of child predators who have resorted to using seemingly benign online social arenas like Roblox or Fortnite to entice, and even extort children to often tragic results.

“This is probably happening right now somewhere here in the county,” Stewart said during the sheriff’s online safety night event this week.

The National Center of Missing and Exploited Children defines sextortion as a form of child sexual exploitation, where children are enticed by and blackmailed by predators online in an attempt to elicit further child sexual abuse material, sexual encounters or money from children. Stewart said it is not unheard of for victims to be as young as 6 or 7 years old, with the average age of sextortion victims being 15.

A typical case of sextortion often involves attempts to blackmail children for money after obtaining explicit images with the threat of spreading those images to people the victim knows unless the victim pays the predator a certain amount of money. A big red flag, investigators say, is for strangers on the internet attempting contact through multiple social media sites or internet platforms so that they can begin to build an understanding about the child’s life and the people involved in it so they can make their threats as specific as possible.

Continue reading at ksl.com.

Related: How to fight back against sextortion – and avoid being a victim

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Sextortion attempts occurring daily, Weber detective warns