SHAYLA REAVES: Woodbury Police are investigating a spike in social media scams involving teenagers, an issue they say is happening across the state and something every parent should be aware of. WCCO’s Marielle Mohs joins us live from Woodbury Police Department with details on the investigation. Marielle.
MARIELLE MOH: Shayla, Woodbury Police are calling this “sextortion,” which involves strangers reaching out to teenagers on Instagram and asking for explicit photos, and then demanding money from the teenager in order to keep those photos private. Now, Woodbury Police right now are investigating several cases of sextortion in their area.
The detectives we talked to today said specifically these online poachers are targeting teenage boys. They’re posing as women and asking for sexualized photos. Once they get these photos, they demand anywhere from $1,000 to $30,000 from the teenager, or they threaten to send the picture out to people that teenager follows on Instagram. Investigators say all parents of teens, not just here in Woodbury, should be aware of this scam, and they offer some tips to parents when it comes to talking to their child about social media safety.
IMRAN ALI: When you do have those conversations is to make sure that, when they do have a social media page, that it is marked private. Make sure to never accept a friend request from somebody unless they know them, to have no personal information on there, like their address, where they live, their city, what school they go to, and to really make sure that anybody that they communicate with is a known individual.
MARIELLE MOH: Another tip that investigators shared with us is that parents should never completely ban their child from social media because that will just encourage the teenager to go through a secretive means to get online somehow. Woodbury Police say that they are not sharing details of any arrests at this point, but they have been able to link some of the IP addresses of those scammers to people in Nigeria. Shayla?
SHAYLA REAVES: Marielle Mohs, certainly, important information parents need to know. Thank you.