A dire warning issued by the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) outlines that Australia is seeing a global trend in the crime of sexual extortion, with a spike in the number of Australian boys being preyed on by international sex offenders, who are grooming them into producing explicit images and then extorting them for money.
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In an unusual move, the ACCCE has released police intelligence warning Australian parents and carers of the emerging risk.
Commander ACCCE and Human Exploitation Hilda Sirec said while coercing and blackmailing minors for sexually-explicit videos and images was not new – it was previously very rare for police to receive reports about offenders demanding money from children.
“Tactics can vary, but child sex offenders commonly pose as girls and befriend boys via social media platforms, image-sharing apps or online games,” Commander Sirec said.
Once the pair connected, the ‘girl’ would request they communicate privately and engage in sexualised conversations before sending explicit images of her fake self, often sourced from a victim of previous offending. The boy would then be asked to send nude images or videos in return.
Commander Sirec said the predator might also manipulate the boy into engaging in explicit activity on camera, which they secretly recorded.
“These predators reveal they had footage of the child in compromising positions and demand money in return for not sharing the vision with family and friends or posting it online,” Commander Sirec said.
“We have seen predators initially demanding an impossibly large sum of money, then negotiating with the victim on a lower amount they could actually pay.
The ACCCE works with many international law enforcement partners who are also seeing an increase in the number of boys being blackmailed for money.
Commander Sirec said authorities were issuing the warning to urge victims to seek help and report the crime, and that they will not be in trouble for coming forward.
“These crimes have devastating effects on children and their families,” Commander Sirec said.
“These offenders are very manipulative and they will threaten and frighten children to get what they want, including telling victims they will be in trouble with law enforcement if they speak up.
“We are appealing to parents and carers to talk to their children about online safety, how to recognise suspicious behaviour online and speak out if they have been targeted,” Sirec said.
ACCCE advised there are a number of warning signs parents and guardians should discuss with their children to look out for including:
- Inconsistencies with an online profile or language
- Meeting on one app, then being encouraged to move onto another platform
- The person claiming their microphone or webcam was not working for video calls
Commander Sirec said it’s also important to let kids know that they are not to blame.
“If your child is or has been a victim, reassure them that it’s not their fault and that there is help available,” Commander Sirec said.
“By reporting what has happened, they may help us catch an offender and prevent other children being harmed.”
The ACCCE shared the following advice for victims of this crime:
- Avoid sending any more images;/videos
- Collect evidence such as screenshots
- Make a report to police
- Speak to someone you trust for advice and support
- Change your passwords and review privacy and security settings
If you think a child is in immediate danger call Triple Zero, or if you have any information about people involved in child abuse and exploitation, call Crime stoppers on 1800 333 000.
You can also make a report online by alerting the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation via the Report Abuse button at www.accce.gov.au/report.
If you or someone you know are impacted by child sexual abuse and online exploitation there are support services available, visit to learn more www.accce.gov.au/support.
Advice and support for parents and carers about how they can help protection children online can be found at ThinkUKnow, an AFP-led education program designed to prevent online child sexual exploitation: www.thinkuknow.org.au
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