Sextortion cases are on the rise, especially in Minnesota

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Social media, video games, and online chatting with friends are just many ways to have your own presence on the internet.

However, it is also a place with a lot of vulnerability. Right now, there’s a rise in sextortion cases across the country, especially targeting younger boys and teens; but young girls can be victims too.

Right now, there is a Hugh spike in Minnesota to where there is a high number of cases that the department of public safety has seen come through their office. “Is a significant surge in a different kind of sextortion. It’s extortion that isn’t about sex. It’s straight-up blackmail, financial extortion. Their target is most often young boys, anywhere from ten to 14 to 17 years of age,” said Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner Bob Jacobson.

Related Stories: How We Can Help You; Safe Harbor Regional Navigators (MN only); Sextortion

Sextortion can start on any site, app, messaging platform, or game where people meet and communicate. “Our predatory crimes agents began receiving tips about Minnesota boys being blackmailed through extortion schemes a couple of years ago. Since that time, we’ve learned of hundreds of additional incidents here in Minnesota and more than 3000 victims nationwide.”

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension determined that cases here are orientated out of other countries, like Nigeria and the Ivory Coast.

A Minnesota mom shared what her son went through befriending someone online. “It took a few minutes. He was so scared and shocked I think, by the whole thing that had transpired that he couldn’t get the words out. After a few minutes, he was able to tell us that he was being threatened on social media.”

Evans shares that this type of crime can lead victims to extreme measures. “Tragically, these crimes have led to more than a dozen young people committing suicide across the United States in the past year.”

The mom shared one of the biggest lessons she and her son learned from that experience. “First and foremost, he learned that these things happen to anyone, and it doesn’t target a specific demographic geographic location, age range, and race. There’s no discrimination regarding who they will target. They just want the money and it doesn’t matter who it’s from.”