The FBI's St. Louis Field Office is warning about a sex crime trend in the St. Louis area targeting young boys. This is according to a report on the Fox 2 Now website.

The television station talked to Special Agent In Charge Jay Greenberg who told the TV station boys are being targeted because they're the group that are more likely to give the predators what they want.

Greenberg also outlined how predators execute the crime. He tells Fox 2 Now that a predator will pose as another teen or young adult. Eventually sends illicit photos and asks the victim to send photos in return. Once the victim does that, the predator threatens to send the photos to the victim's family, friends, school, or post them online unless the victim pays small amounts of money. Sometimes the predators will ask more for photos instead.

Fox 2 Now reports the thing that's a little different about this, is predators just aren't targeting a victim's social media page, they're engaging in this crime through any app or game that has a chat function.

The FBI has a webpage dedicated to fitting this type of crime, which they call Sextorton and you can check out all their resources here. FBI agents who have worked on these type of sex crime/exploitation cases have put together six things they want everyone, and especially young people to know, that they think will help keep them safe:

  • Be selective about what you share online. If your social media accounts are open to everyone, a predator can figure out a lot of information about you.
  • Be wary of anyone you encounter for the first time online. Block or ignore messages from strangers.
  • People can pretend to be anything or anyone online. Videos and photos are not proof that people are who they claim to be. Images can be altered or stolen. In some cases, predators have even taken over social media accounts of their victims.
  • Be suspicious if you meet someone on one game or app, and they want you to talk to them on a different platform.
  • Anything you create online is probably going to be online forever. That includes messages, photos, and videos. Any of this can be made public. Once you send something to someone else you don't have control over where it goes next.
  • Ask for help. If messages or requests you get online don't seem right, block the sender, report the behavior to the administrator, and or go to an adult. If you have been victimized online, tell someone.

As far as parents, and those responsible for helping raise kids go, the FBI wants you to know that the predators carrying out these crimes are skilled and ruthless and are very good at perpetrating them, so any child or teen of either sex can be targeted. There isn't one type of child over another being targeted, the only common trait among victims is internet access.

They have put together three thirty-second conversations caregivers can have with their kids which will help protect them from this type of crime. An updated stranger-danger conversation, a conversation about the power a picture has, and a conversation about the adult always being there to help the child. Information on these quick, and painless, conversations are available on this page. (Lower right side of the page.)

If young people are being exploited, they are the victim of a crime and it should be reported. Contact 1-800-Call-FBI to report these types of crimes.

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