Howard County police warn of ‘sextortion,’ online predators

Howard County police say they’ve received several reports regarding children who’ve been targeted for “sextortion” and they’re warning parents to be wary of online predators.

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Police say the victims have been convinced by someone they’ve met online to give them explicit photos.

Then, once they have the photos, the predators threaten to release the photos unless the child pays them money through an online app.

READ MORE: 8 charged in online child exploitation sting

In one case, the victim was a 9-year-old child.

They’re asking parents to talk to their children to help protect them from these perpetrators.

READ MORE: How to keep your kids safe from online predators

Police say parents should look for the following tips:

- Be wary of anyone who asks for pictures or videos, or invites children into a private chat. Often, the predator poses as another child or teen in order to increase the victim’s comfort level.

- Remind your child never to share pictures of videos – note that they are online forever if they’re posted by another user.

- Parents should monitor their children’s computer and cell phone apps – remember that some apps make it hard to find photos or video.

Anyone who believes their child has been targeted by these predators should call police at (410) 313-2200.