OKEMOS, Mich. (WLNS) — FBI representatives are briefing Okemos High School students and parents on Monday about the growing internet practice of “sextortion.”
Organizers of the event said the goal is to prevent students from falling victim to this new form of cyber-blackmail, through education on the internet extortion practice and its signs.
Sextortion is term used by law enforcement to describe a crime in which someone threatens to distribute private photos or personal materials unless they are provided with sexual images, sexual favors, or money.
“They lurk in chat rooms and record young people who post or livestream sexually explicit images and videos of themselves, or they may hack into your electronic devices using malware to gain access to your files and control your web camera and microphone without you knowing it,” an FBI special agent said in a video transcript on the FBI’s website.
John Hood, Superintendent of Okemos Public Schools, said his first reaction upon hearing the term was “hurt” for students falling victim.
“So you know, to be betrayed in that way, and the mental impact of the students, where students in some cases are taking their own lives, is just devastating to hear,” Hood said.
According to the FBI, 13 students have killed themselves because of sextortion, including one in Michigan.
Sextortion has also resulted in the release of photos in spite of ransoms having been paid.
“We didn’t really know the term sextortion, which is why we really wanted to educate our students,” Hood said. “I’m hoping the trusted adults and their children will sit down and talk about what is sextortion.”