Police at Florida International University have noticed a rise in sextortion crimes, and they're warning the Panther community to beware.
FIU Police released a bulletin Wednesday warning of recent reports they're received of cyber-criminals targeting victims on public social media accounts.
Police say the perpetrators engage with victims on social media and ask them to share explicit photos or videos of themselves, then threaten to distribute the materials unless the victim pays them.
FIU Police Chief Delrish Moss said there have been four reported victims among the student body.
"It’s certainly a blackmail situation because what happens is, these are supposed to be private conversations, supposed to be conversations where people are meeting to become more friendly with each other and they’re certainly not expecting that now they’re the victim of extortion at the end, and usually, out of fear of embarrassment, out of fear of being exposed, they succumb," Moss said. “Everybody’s trying to get money, they’re trying to get pictures, they’re trying to get something, they don’t contact you just because they’re trying to be a friend.”
Among the tips police gave to avoid becoming a sextortion victim are to keep your social media accounts private, block messages from people you don't know and don't open attachments from strangers.
It's also best to be suspicious if you meet someone on an online game or app and then they ask to chat on a different platform, and never send compromising images of yourself to anyone, no matter who they are, police said.
Sign up for our Breaking newsletter to get the most urgent news stories in your inbox.