Md. state police warn of sexual extortion of minors over social media

Internet child predators have been using social media, such as Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook, to extort minors, the Maryland State Police said in a statement Tuesday.

The predators pose as romantic interests, the police said, and then request sexually explicit photos, which they then use to extort the youths. State police said predators demand minors send prepaid gift cards and credit cards to prevent the material from being posted online or sent to friends and family.

Maryland State Police encourage parents and guardians to educate their children about the risks of communicating with unknown social media accounts, adding that children are frequent targets for online criminal activity.

More tips from the state police on what to tell kids about social media:

  • When contacted by an account you do not know, it is very possible the account does not belong to who they say they are;
  • Although an account might seem harmless at first, the nature of a chat can quickly become threatening and intimidating;
  • Do not click on unknown links / URLs sent by unknown accounts;
  • Do not take illicit photographs of yourself;
  • Do not send illicit photographs of yourself online;
  • If you are contacted by an unknown account, it is best to ignore the message, report the account to the social media platform, and block the account from being able to view your profile.

To report incidents of child exploitation — harassment, cyberbullying, sexual abuse and child pornography — contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) at or 1-800-THE-LOST.

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