CLINTON CO, Mich. (WLNS) – Clinton County police agencies teamed up with the FBI to share tips with parents on the growing issue of sextortion.

It was the first of two presentations in the county breaking down the reality of the crime that has seen an increase in cases, including here in Michigan.

Experts said “sextortion” can start from chatting online. When that turns sexual, an offender would demand more videos, photos, messages or money from their victims with the threat of sharing the content online.

Experts say sextortion cases are on the rise

One parent said it’s scary to not know who’s following your kids online.

“They may think they are talking to a 16-year-old boy online but it’s really a 50-year-old guy from another country trying to get money. I think it’s really important to have those really difficult conversations with your kids before it’s too late,” said parent Amber Plunkett.

FBI Special Agent Christopher Rodolico said he first reached out to the mid-Michgian sheriffs after his office got two sextortion cases in a week.

He said while some suspects may reach out to young people individually for explicit material, others operate in groups – oftentimes working outside of the U.S. to extort money from their victims.

“They thought there must have been a team of people working on this because no sooner did they send the fourth or fifth picture, that a collage zipped back to them saying “give us the money,” said Rodolico.

Earlier this month, a Florida man faced federal charges for allegedly threatening a Clinton County teen on Snapchat to get her to send sexual photos

Rodolico said offenders can even be other students, saying the goal of the crime is to get something explicit that could be used to pressure a victim into sending more, or money.

Plunkett said the presentation hit close to home.

“My daughter and her friend were actually targeted on an app called Likee. Right before Thanksgiving, they were making a video in my basement that I didn’t even know they were doing this. The cops showed up because a group out of Canada that volunteers looking for predators had contracted the police and my daughter had shared our location, feet from our home,” she said

She’s grateful that local law enforcement is tracking this and hopes there are more opportunities to teach parents and students.

“You don’t even know half of the apps that are out there and what can happen,” said Plunkett.

Special Agent Rodolico said his two keys in prevention are to remind your kid not to take explicit photos and to make sure they know they can always come to you if they get into trouble.

The next presentation is set for next week Thursday at DeWitt Middle School auditorium from 60 to 7 p.m.