LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A Henderson mom is sending out a warning after she says her son was the victim of sextortion.
Sextortion is defined by an adult enticing a minor to produce sexually explicit images or videos. The Las Vegas FBI bureau says the problem is growing and evolving.
13 Action News doesn’t want to add to the pain of this incident, so we’re protecting the mother and son’s identities.
In February, at 1:30 a.m., the local mom says she received a phone call from her son who was in the other room.
“He was hysterically crying, saying I f’ed up, I f’ed up mom, I don’t know what to do,” she said.
The teen told his mom he was chatting with who he thought was a 16-year-old girl named Kathy.
“At some point, she sent him a provocative or nude picture and asked for one in return, which he did send one back to her,” the mother said.
The Henderson mom says her teenager soon realized the person he sent pictures to was not a 16-year-old girl. Instead, it was an older man who appeared to be in another country.
“This person, who was not Kathy, started demanding money from him. That if you don’t send me money, I’m going to contact everyone on your Instagram account and I’m going to tell them, I’m going to show them your picture and they’re going to know what you did,” she added.
She says the ordeal was so traumatic for her teen, he threatened to take his own life. When law enforcement responded, they took him in for mental health evaluation. Months later, he’s going to therapy and working on moving past the incident.
“It’s excruciating to hear a kid in that kind of pain, it really is, but I’d rather hear that pain and help him through it than have him go through it alone and decide that it’s too much,” his mother added.
Special Agent Spencer Evans is in charge of the Las Vegas Division of the FBI. He says sextortion has been around for about a decade, typically targeting teen girls, but now the crime is evolving and growing.
“The new trend that we’re seeing is there's a lot of targeting juveniles males as well. They’re targeting them not just to produce sexually explicit images, but also to provide bank account information, gift cards, there's a financial extortion aspect to this we’ve never seen before, but is definitely growing in prominence,” Evans added.
Evans says the key to fighting the problem is awareness and talking to your teens about internet safety.
“Kids need to know that it's okay to tell somebody and parents need to know that it’s okay and in fact important they have this conversation. The more awareness you shine on problems like this, the less likely it is that subjects will be able to exploit innocent children both in Nevada and across the country,” Evans said.
Evans says teens should call a trusted adult immediately if they end up in a situation like this. He asks all parents, teachers and coaches to be sensitive to the issue. If a child brings it forward, call police or the FBI.