An increasing number of teenagers and even younger kids are falling victims to sextortion scams.

A judge recently sentenced Dylan Matthew Deling (who also used the names Jason Keens and Dylan Nash) to 35 years in prison. Deling blackmailed more than 40 kids to force them into creating child porn.

Deling, 21, used multiple social media platforms like Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram as well as text messages to targert kids for a sextortion scam. Sextortion is defined as extorting sexually explicit images and videos from a victim.

Creeps like Deling do this by either threatening to harm the victim or their loved ones or by conning the victim into sending sexually explicit videos or photos and later threatening to share them publicly if the victim doesn’t keep sending more of them.

Thousands of Kids Targeted

Sadly, Deling is far from the only predator pulling scams like this. According to the FBI, thousands of children are targeted every year. They typically range in age from 10 to 17 but the crime can happen to people of any age.

These predators usually pretend to be the same age as their victims though sometimes they represent themselves as a friendly adult.

The FBI says once is either bullied or charmed into providing the images, the victimization can last for years. Children have attempted suicide in an effort to escape from these predators.

How To Protect Kids

There are steps adults can take to help protect kids from this crime.

  1. Make sure they know it exists and that they should never share sexually explicit images or videos with anyone.
  2. Tell them to tell you immediately if anyone threatens them online. Make sure they know online predators can’t get to their families and that they should tell you immediately.
  3. Tell them that anyone who asks them to engage in sexually explicit online behavior needs to be reported.
  4. Make sure kids know that if they’ve fallen victim to this scam, they aren’t in trouble. The person who asked for the images is.
  5. Make sure to monitor their computer activities and check all apps downloaded to mobile devices.
  6. Don’t let kids use webcam without an adult present.
  7. Set the privacy settings on all their accounts to the highest level possible.