‘Sextortion’ schemes online target two out of every three teens

It is mainly young men who are victims

New research has revealed how shockingly common sextortion has become – two out of every three teenagers are being targeted by such schemes.

Sextortion involves the threat of having sexual information, images or clips shared, which is done to get money from a victim.

A survey by Snapchat’s parent company found 65 per cent of teens on social media apps said they or their friends were victims.

They reported being “catfished” – which is when someone pretends on social media to be someone different, in order to trick or attract other people – or being hacked for private information, including explicit images, that were then used to blackmail them.

About one-third of youngsters who were scammed had shared explicit or private images.

Victims are usually young males, though girls are sometimes also targeted.

Research suggest that more than nine out of ten teenagers in the UK use social media, suggesting millions are falling victim to sextortion.

Campaigners warn that those impacted are at risk of suffering depression and mental health problems.

A Michigan teen football star, Jordan DeMay, was driven to take his own life after three Nigerian men enticed him into sending explicit images of himself to a fake Instagram account, then threatened to expose the boy if he didn’t pay.

A Snap spokesperson previously told Fox News Digital that the “sexual exploitation of any Snapchatter, especially a teen, is horrific, illegal” and against the company’s policies.

The statement read: “Financial sextortion is a growing online threat, and we have been ramping up our tools for combating it, including strengthening our detection technologies. We are continuing to invest in new protections for both teens and parents and are developing educational resources to help raise awareness about these growing online harms.”

Snapchat now features a new tool for reporting sextortion schemes. The app also has a parental supervision feature called Family Center.

The platform plans to launch a new Safety Snapshot series next month to educate users on the risks of sextortion and teach them how to deal with a sextortion situation.

If you need help, call the Samaritans any time of day on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org.

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