Child extortion on the rise in Australia
Tech Updates

Child extortion on the rise in Australia

Child extortion incidents involving Australian boys have quadrupled in the past year, prompting authorities to issue an alarming warning to parents and carers.

According to the Australian Center to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE), online predators, often abroad, are grooming, cheating, and coercing children into providing sexually explicit photos and videos, increasingly targeting young boys.

Money is then demanded from the victim under the threat that the photos and videos will be shared.

Australian Federal Police warns of rise in child extortion | —  Australia's leading news site

It should let the led ACCCE take the “unusual step” of releasing police intelligence to alert Australian parents and carers of the emerging risk.

ACCCE commander Hilda Sirec said blackmailing minors for sexually explicit images and videos were not new. Still, it was previously “very rare” for police to receive reports of perpetrators demanding money.

Camera icon The number of reported child extortion incidents have quadrupled in the past year. Credit: Included

“The tactics may vary, but child molesters often pose as girls and befriend boys through social media platforms, image-sharing apps, or online games,” she said.

“These predators reveal they had images of the child in compromising positions and demand money in exchange for not sharing the vision with family and friends or posting it online.”

She said online predators often negotiated with the victim before demanding more payments.

“We’ve seen predators initially demanding an impossibly large sum of money and then negotiating with the victim a lower amount that they could actually pay,” Ms. Sirec said.

“Once that money was paid – via bank transfer, online game, gift cards, or even cryptocurrency – the predator would demand even more money.

“They are not put off by the victim’s age; they only care about the profit they can make.”

Families have been told to watch out for warning signs, including inconsistencies with an online profile or language, being asked to continue a conversation on another platform after the meeting, and a person claiming they can’t make a video or phone call because their camera or microphone is not working.

All victims are urged to immediately report the incident to the police and collect evidence, such as screenshots.

They should also talk to someone they trust for advice and support, change their passwords, and review their online privacy and security settings.

Camera IconAustralia’s federal police have urged families to pay attention to warning signs. Credit: Included

Ms. Sirec said these crimes have “devastating consequences” for children and their families.

“These perpetrators are very manipulative, and they will threaten and scare children into getting what they want, including telling victims that if they speak up, they will get in trouble with law enforcement,” she said.

She said it is important that parents educate their children about online safety and encourage them to report any violations.

“We are calling on parents and caregivers to talk to their children about online safety, how to spot suspicious behavior online, and to speak up if they are targeted,” said Ms. Sirec.

“If your child is or has been a victim, reassure him that it is not his fault and that help is available.

“They can help us catch a perpetrator and prevent other children from being harmed by reporting what happened.”

If you think a child is in immediate danger, call triple-0, Crime Stoppers on 1800 333,000, or your local police department.

Members of the public who have information about people involved in child abuse and exploitation are urged to call Crime Stops at 1800 333 000.