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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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Politics

‘Sextortion’ is a rapidly escalating threat, FBI director says

Dec 06, 2023

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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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FBI Director Christopher Wray warned Congress that “sextortion,” particularly among teens, is bursting into prominence. According to the FBI, sextortion occurs when someone threatens to distribute one’s private and sensitive material if they don’t provide images of a sexual nature, sexual favors, or money.

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Sextortion is a rapidly escalating threat,” Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee, Tuesday, Dec. 5. “And as you say, there have been way too many teenagers victimized and they don’t know where to turn.”

On some occasions, victims send photos to a predator after being tricked into thinking that they may be a romantic interest. In other cases, predators use malware to hack into a computer’s files or web camera and microphone to record the victim without their knowledge.

The perpetrators then threaten to publish the explicit images unless the victim provides them with more images or money.

“I think a lot of the kids that are falling victim to this, when they get targeted, they don’t think they have a choice,” Wray said. “They feel like they’re trapped and stuck, and then turn to tragic consequences like suicide.”

The issue has received bipartisan concern and attention from members of Congress who hope to pass legislation to address it.

The Senate Judiciary Committee sent five bills addressing online child sexual exploitation to the Senate floor but they have not been passed into law.

The bills are:

Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said one of the biggest things that has stood in their way is big tech companies. 

“The resistance from Big Tech to even pursue this issue despite this overwhelming bipartisan vote troubles me greatly,” Durbin said. 

One of the concerns about Big Tech is the use of encrypted messages, which makes it impossible for the companies or even investigators to view what is sent between two people.

The Senate Judiciary Committee hopes to question executives like Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg and TikTok’s Shou Chew during a hearing on Jan. 31. 

In 2022, the FBI received 7,000 reports related to online sextortion of minors.

The FBI has the following tips for people to avoid becoming victims: 

  • Never send compromising images of yourself to anyone, no matter who they are — or who they say they are.
  • Do not open attachments from people you do not know.
  • Turn off your electronic devices and web cameras when you are not using them.
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[FBI Director Christopher Wray]

Sextortion is a rapidly escalating threat. And as you say, there have been way too many teenagers victimized and they don’t know where to turn.”

[Ray Bogan]

FBI Director Christopher Wray warned Congress that sextortion, particularly among teens, is bursting into prominence. 

According to the FBI, “sextortion occurs when someone threatens to distribute your private and sensitive material if you don’t provide them images of a sexual nature, sexual favors, or money.”

Sometimes, victims send photos to a predator, after being tricked into thinking they may be a romantic interest. In other cases, predators use malware to hack into a computer’s files or web camera and microphone to record the victim without them knowing. The perpetrators then threaten to publish the explicit images unless the victim provides them with more images or money. 

[FBI Director Christopher Wray]

I think a lot of the kids that are falling victim to this, when they get targeted, they don’t they don’t think they have a choice. They feel like they’re trapped and stuck, and then turn to tragic consequences like suicide.” 

[Ray Bogan]

In 2022, the FBI received 7000 reports related to online sextorion of minors.

The issue has received bipartisan concern and attention from members of Congress, who hope to pass legislation to address it. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee sent five bills addressing online child sexual exploitation to the Senate floor but they have not been passed into law. 

Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin said one of the biggest things that has stood in their way is big tech companies. 

[Sen. Dick Durbin]

The resistance from big tech to even pursue this issue despite this overwhelming bipartisan vote troubles me greatly. “

[Ray Bogan]

One of the concerns about big tech is the use of encrypted messages, which makes it impossible for the companies or even investigators to view what’s sent between two people.

 The Senate Judiciary Committee hopes to question Executives like Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg and TikToks Shou Chew during a hearing On January 31st. Straight from DC, I’m Ray Bogan.