An online scheme that’s become an increasing concern for parents across the country has already hit home in the worst possible way for one family in Mississippi. A Starkville father says his teenage son killed himself after getting caught up in a sextortion scheme involving a video chat with some people in Nigeria who threatened to share the explicit images online if he didn’t pay them $1,000. And it’s apparently more widespread than you may realize. A similar scheme was attempted in Kosciusko. And John O’Hara with the Better Business Bureau of Mississippi says he mentioned sextortion during a talk at a school in south Mississippi recently and several students told him they had been asked to send explicit photos to someone they met online.
But O’Hara says it’s not just kids who become victims. He says it sometimes happens to older people who fall for romance scams which take advantage of lonely adults on the internet. And he says for those who get lured into one of these sextortion schemes, paying the money isn’t the answer. O’Hara says the initial demand will be “only the tip of the iceberg” and the extortionists will continue to ask for more money.
He’s encouraging parents to talk to their children about online dangers. And O’Hara says kids should be encouraged to tell their parents if they fall victim to a scheme.
Attorney General Lynn Fitch offers educational resources on internet safety for both parents and young people. Fitch says sextortion schemes should be reported to:
The information will be forwarded to the attorney general’s office for investigation.