Sextortion: Protecting Your Family | NBC Southern California

Sextortion: Protecting Your Family

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    NEWSLETTERS

    (Published Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015)

    Cassidy Wolf is a former Miss Teen USA and a victim of sextortion -- an online extortion crime she described as "like a horror movie" and one that the FBI and prosecutors warned is rapidly growing.

    In Wolf's case, a former classmate tricked her into downloading hidden software that allowed him to control the camera on her computer. He took pictures of her when she as alone in her room, then made demands.

    "He would give like a countdown thing," Wolf said. "'In five minutes, if you don't respond, I am uploading all of this up onto Facebook.'

    "If I didn't respond or do what he said then he would ruin my life."

    He had been using the camera for about a year, Wolf said.

    "It was just crazy, like a horror movie," she said.

    The FBI made an arrest in the case, but that individual was released Monday after serving one year in federal prison.

    Kayla Laws' computer also was hacked, allowing someone to retrieve a seminude photo she sent to her gmail account. The picture was uploaded to a "revenge porn" site, which agreed to remove the photo for a fee.

    "It is really not all that different from traditional rape," said Dr. Charlotte Laws, Kayla Laws mother. "You are exposed, you are vulnerable, someone is a predator, and someone is using that power over you."

    The perpetrators also were convicted in that case, but authorities told NBC4 that as mobile devices, access to the Internet and social media use increase, so do the number opportunities for predators.

    "We are just seeing a great increase in the number of people who are willing to commit this crime," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Wilkinson.

    Clinical psychologist Dr. Tracy Bennett said she sees many children in serious situations. She created a tool kit for parents, "Get Kids Internet Safe."

    "As kids start social media younger and younger, they are at increasing risk," said Bennett.

    California and about half the states have laws against revenge porn and sextortion. A California Congresswoman plans to introduce a bill making it a federal crime.

     

    Internet Safety Tips

    File a Complaint: If you are a victim of sextortion and want to file a complaint with law enforcement:
    Dr. Tracy Bennett's Site: "Get Kids Internet Safe"
    FBI: Information about sextortion
    Privacy Tips: Advice from Cassidy Wolf

    From Dr. Laws: Support and advocacy regarding revenge porn.
     

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