‘Sextortion’ threats involving children surface in Howard Co.

Police in Howard County, Maryland, are urging parents to monitor their children’s online activity after uncovering several “sextortion” incidents involving minors.

At the same time that kids have adjusted to online learning, police have learned of incidents where a “new friend” persuades a child to give that friend explicit photos. Then, the person threatens to release the photos if a payment isn’t made.

In one instance, the child involved was 9 years old, police said in a Facebook post.

Police said parents should be aware whenever a child is invited to a private chat or asked to provide photos or videos. Offenders often pose as other kids or teenagers.

Parents are urged to remind children that pictures or videos uploaded online could remain there permanently.

“Child predators use the internet as a convenient and anonymous way [to] gain access to children when they think parents aren’t looking, so it’s important to be active in monitoring your child’s use of the internet and talk to them about how to stay safe,” police said in the post.

PARENTS: With the increased amount of time most children are spending online, Howard County police are reminding parents…

Posted by Howard County Police Department on Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Anyone suspecting a child has been a victim of sextortion or targeted for a similar incident should contact Howard County police at 410-313-2200.

WTOP’s Dick Uliano contributed to this report.

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