With holidays underway, now is the best time to have a conversation with your children about the rise of ‘sextortion’.
The Coalition established the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) in 2018, which recently revealed a massive spike in ‘sextortion’ of children this year – where criminals extort children after tricking them into sending nude photographs.
Shadow Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said the Christmas holidays are likely to be a peak period for scammers and organised criminals using these tactics.
“During the break, children are frequently unsupervised, online more, and are about to get cash or gift cards as presents,” said the Shadow Minister.
“Criminals using the sextortion tactic are after money. They prey on children through social media platforms like Instagram and SnapChat, almost immediately sexualise the conversation and send a nude photograph to entice their victim, then request a nude back and begin the blackmail process – causing anguish to the child via threats to leak those photographs.”
ACCCE has seen a 100-fold increase in reports of sextortion crimes this year, compared to last – with more than 100 reports over each month of 2022.
Across the Five Eyes network – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States – there’s been a noted spike in suicide and self-harm as a result of sextortion.
UK figures revealed a 4 per cent rise in self-harm or suicide after being preyed upon; in the US, it was 8 per cent. Of those targeted, it’s reported that more than 90 per cent of victims are young boys, usually aged between 13 to 17.
To help combat the spike in sextortion, ACCCE has launched an education and awareness campaign and more than 500 Australian-based financial accounts have been shut down by authorities after being used to receive blackmail payments.
“We know as parents that it’s really difficult to constantly monitor all of our child’s online activity,” said the Shadow Minister.
“If you’re a parent or grandparent, I urge you to have a chat with your teen or pre-teen about what sextortion is.”
The Australian Federal Police launched Operation Huntsman and suggest there are many more victims who unfortunately don’t report their experience to authorities.
Visit www.accce.gov.au for more information.