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Parents warned by federal agency about 'sextortion'

Have you heard of the term "sextortion?" The Federal Bureau of Investigation has issued a warning about this crime. It happens when people send sexually explicit videos or photos to someone online, who then uses those images for the purpose of blackmail.

The FBI says that this crime occurs when someone demands sexual favors, money or other thing of value from a person by either:

-- Threatening to use such images or other information from a person's computer in order to harm relatives or friends of the alleged victim

-- Threatening to distribute or release material that the victim wants to private. This can also mean text messages and emails in addition to sexually explicit videos or photos

-- Keeping something from the alleged victim that he or she wants or needs until the demands are met. This is often used against those in power, such as an employer, educator or government official.

According to the FBI, the average age of the alleged victims was 15 years old. Just over three-quarters of the alleged victims were female children. Many alleged victims also knew there were other victims. Some stated that the alleged perpetrators grew more aggressive when they didn't comply and said they would send the photos to their parents if more photos weren't sent.

The FBI advises parents to monitor and supervise their children's use of the Internet. Discussing the possible risks of sending such images and videos is also a must. Communication is important, so have age-appropriate conversations with your children about risky online behavior.

For those facing charges related to sextortion, it's important to understand the seriousness of the accusations. The penalties can be very significant and may include being named on the sexual offender registry. A strong defense is necessary and an experienced sex crimes defense attorney can provide you with advice and guidance.

Source: wncn.com, "FBI warns of ‘sextortion’ involving teens, sexual photos and social media," Jonathan Rodriguez, July 07, 2015

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