What Children and Caregivers Need to Know — FBI


Blackmail can start on any website, app, messaging platform, or game where people meet and communicate. In some cases, the first contact from the criminal will be a threat. The person may claim to have a revealing photo or video of a child that will be shared if the victim does not submit more pictures. More often, however, this crime begins when young people believe they are communicating with someone their age, who is interested in a relationship or with someone who is providing something of value.

Once criminals have one or more videos or images, they threaten to publish the content or they threaten violence in order for the victim to produce more images. Children feel shame, fear and confusion when caught in this vicious cycle that often prevents them from asking for help or reporting abuse. Caregivers and youth should understand how crime occurs and openly discuss online safety.

financial extortion

The FBI also recently saw increase in financial extortion cases targeting minor victims in the United States. Financial sextortion is different from traditional sextortion.

In these cases, the offender receives sexually explicit material from the child and then threatens to release harmful material unless the victim sends money and/or a gift card. The number of requests varies, and offenders often disclose their victims’ pornographic material regardless of whether or not they receive money. This growing threat has resulted in an alarming number of deaths by suicide.

How to get help

If young people are being exploited, they are the victim of a crime and should report it. Contact you local FBI field officecall 1-800-CALL-FBI, or report online at

The FBI also has staff dedicated to assisting victims of crime. Learn more about us Victim Services Department and Know your rights if you are a victim of sextortion and your picture has been posted online.


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