I’ve read some very disturbing news articles recently and wanted to make you aware of a danger your daughter may be facing so you can warn her.
There are two terms you and your daughter need to know—catfishing and sextortion.
Let’s start with catfishing…
According to Webster’s dictionary, catfishing is “to deceive (someone) by creating a false personal profile online.”
A couple of months ago, a 28-year-old former Virginia state trooper drove over 2500 miles from Virginia to California to meet a 16-year-old girl he had catfished online.
He allegedly killed the teen’s mom and grandparents before setting their house on fire and leaving with the teen girl.
Thankfully the teen girl was able to escape unharmed after a chase by the police. The perpetrator was fatally shot.
I can’t imagine the pain this teen girl will continue to experience knowing her mom and grandparents would still be alive had she not communicated with a stranger online.
This is why I spend so much time during class discussing with students the dangers of meeting strangers online and trusting that they are who they say they are.
A 9th grade girl told me after class about a close call she had with a guy she met on the Omegle app. She sent him multiple nude pics.
But when he wanted to meet up with her in person and even knew her home address without her giving it to him, she became alarmed and reported it to a teacher at school.
The young lady asked me to share her story with other teens so they wouldn’t do what she did.
When I share her story in class, as soon as I mention Omegle, the students will moan, roll their eyes and say, “What did she expect? That site is full of perverts.”
Here’s another story that was in the news recently about another app I hadn’t heard of called YUBO:
YUBO, with the tagline, “Get friends. Get real. Go live,” allows teenagers as young as 13 the ability to meet total strangers online.
I just read an article about a 14-year-old girl in Tennessee who met an “18-year-old” guy on the YUBO app and sent him a naked picture via Facetime.
He recorded the Facetime video and threatened to distribute the video to her Instagram followers if she didn’t make more explicit videos for him.
YUBO is also the app a 19-year-old used to communicate with 9 and 11-year-old sisters he abducted from their home in New York recently.
Ask your daughter if she’s heard of either of these apps, and have a conversation about the real-life dangers of catfishing.
Now, let’s discuss sextortion…
According to the FBI’s website, “Sextortion is a crime that involves adults coercing kids and teens into sending explicit images online.”
They typically threaten to release the photos or videos to their personal contacts of family members unless they are paid.
And it’s not just teen girls who are targets. Sextortionists are increasingly targeting teen boys.
A couple of months ago, I read about the latest in a string of teen guys committing suicide as a result of sextortion. This is the third highly publicized teen suicide in the past eleven months related to sextortion.
James Wood took his life after pictures of private parts were sent to him via Instagram. In return, he shared a compromising video of himself. The predator sent 200 messages over 20 hours demanding money.
After sending James’ pics to other teens, threats were made to post them widely on social media if James didn’t pay $300.
Even after James sent $100, the threats continued. He committed suicide the next day at his home.
Ten months ago, a 17-year-old guy killed himself six hours after falling victim to an online sextortion plot. After paying $300 to blackmailers to stop them from releasing the naked picture, they demanded more cash.
And eleven months ago, another 17-year-old guy who had sent compromising photos paid the predator $5,000 before committing suicide because the sextortionist demanded even more money.
This doesn’t have to be your daughter’s story. Here’s what you can do:
- Let your daughter know that no matter what, a mistake is a mistake and she can get past it. Remind her your love for her is unconditional regardless of what she does.
- Familiarize yourself with all the apps on your daughter’s devices, and make sure her location setting is turned off on her camera.
- Share this blog post with her as a cautionary tale and have a discussion with her about the dangers of meeting strangers on apps and social media platforms.
This FBI site provides excellent information kids, teens, and parents need to know.
Years ago, predators would go to parks or public physical locations to find their victims. Now, they find their victims from the comfort of their homes.
Making it even more critical that you arm your daughter with the information shared in this post that could save her from the pain of public humiliation and the resulting thoughts of harming herself or worse—ending her own life.
Remember, whether it’s catfishing or sextortion—the predators count on the ignorance of their prey.
So please start having these tough conversations with your daughter TODAY!
P.S. The news stories shared in this post may seem so extreme that they’re the exception and not the rule. But please don’t make the mistake of thinking your daughter could never fall prey to catfishing or sextortion. She could. And that’s why I strongly encourage you to read this blogpost together. Then talk about these real-life stories of teens blackmailed on social platforms and some terrorized to the point they felt their only option was to end their own life. Discuss the tips I shared and what your daughter should do to avoid predators. You’ll both be glad you did.
P.P.S. This information is too critical to keep to yourself! So please share this blog post with any parent you know of a tween or teen (girl or guy), so they’ll be aware of the potential dangers lurking on social platforms kids frequent, as well as the harsh realities of teens who’ve experienced catfishing and/or sextortion. Hopefully in turn, they’ll utilize the tips in this post to equip and empower their daughters and sons to avoid predators as well.