FAIRFAX, Va. (WUSA9) – An investigation is underway after two George Mason University students claim they were the victims of “sextortion.”
According to the FBI, "sextortion" is typically when someone online threatens to publish nude or sexually explicit images unless the victim pays them - and they say it's a growing problem.
Last week an email, from campus police was sent out to all faculty and students, warning them of "sextortion scams"
In the email, Mason Police Captain Brian Cozby said police received "reports of two separate incidents of “sextortion" over the course of a week.
In each case, he said, "unknown suspects gained the trust of Mason students over the Internet and enticed the students to broadcast sexual acts over their webcams."
The suspects kept the footage and reportedly told the students they'd "circulate the videos on the internet unless [they] paid $5,000."
This isn't only happening on the Virginia college’s campus, it's increasingly happening everywhere.
The FBI is warning parents; the Navy is warning sailors. Since 2012, the U.S. Navy says sailors and marines all over the country paid $45,000 to “sextortionists.”
Last year, a man in Montgomery County pled guilty to stealing comprising photos of 100 women and using them as blackmail to pressure them to send even more explicit photos.
Amanda Todd posted a video online documenting her experience with sextortion through flash cards. She committed suicide in 2012 at 15-years-old.
Officials at George Mason University said the investigation is ongoing and declined to comment further.
The FBI said there are three big things you can do to protect yourself from things like this:
- Turn off your electronic devices when you're not using them.
- Don't open attachments from strangers and
- Never send compromising images of yourself.
If you are in this type of situation do not pay anyone. Report it to the police.