Wisconsin Attorney General warns of increases in sextortion cases

Wisconsin Attorney General warns of increases in sextortion cases

Wisconsin Attorney General warns of increases in sextortion cases

A 33-year-old La Crosse, Wisconsin, man was recently sentenced to federal prison in a sextortion case involving a teenage girl, according to authorities.

The case surrounding Seth W. Fagan was investigated in part by the Wisconsin Department of Justice —Division of Criminal Investigation.

“We’ve got to recognize the internet is where kids are spending a lot of their time right now and ensuring they know what to do to stay safe there is vitally important,” said Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul.

Kaul is concerned that the current rate of sextortion tips coming into law enforcement in the state of Wisconsin could exceed last year’s total of 176 reports.

Sextortion is a form of child sexual exploitation where children are threatened or blackmailed, most often with the possibility of sharing with the public a nude or sexual image of them, by a person who demands additional sexual content, sexual activity, or money from the child, according to a news release from the AG’s Office.

The Office provided resources for parents to protect their kids online.

“After looking at the messages myself, what was scary from a parent’s perspective is how they were very, very skilled at getting him to do exactly what they wanted,” said a Minnesota mother, who asked her identity not be shared.

Last year, Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension shared about her ordeal after the woman’s teenage son thought he met a teenage girl on social media but instead became the target of a financial sextortion scheme.

It turns out it wasn’t a teen girl, but suspects telling him to steal his parents’ credit cards to pay them $400 dollars, or they’d share a picture of him, according to authorities.

Dan Barry, a retired police detective now with Zero Abuse Project, suggests if a parent discovers a problem, save the messages, or photos, get law enforcement involved and don’t engage yourself with the other person.

“I think parents need to weigh the balance between respecting a child’s privacy versus keeping them safe,” Barry said. “We know these people doing these activities on the internet are looking for parents who aren’t paying attention.”

Derek Cress, also from Zero Abuse Project, says a conversation between kids and parents needs to happen often.

“Having that conversation about the good things and the bad things of the internet,” Cress suggested.