COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) is warning the community about a troubling trend of "sextortion" they say is on the rise across the nation and right here in southern Colorado.
According to CSPD, scammers are targeting children across all kinds of social media platforms and websites. Scammers will reach out to children online, convince them to share explicit photos, and then threaten to share those photos if they're not paid immediately.
While investigating the growing number of sextortion cases, CPSD and analysts in the U.S. are identifying 15 to 17-year-old boys as the group most targeted.
"[Scammers] solicit photographs of the person of explicit nature. They get sent, and then almost immediately, about 79% of all the cases, they're asking for money, demanding money from the kid or the child to get sent to them," said CSPD Lieutenant Owen Scott.
Scott said those demands often come with a threat — pay up or the photos will be shared.
"Matter of fact, I just read a report today, and I sent it over to our Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) unit to kind of review to see what information we can get, if we can identify a perpetrator from the information, what app they were using," said Scott.
CSPD is warning the public and encouraging parents to open up conversations about this with their kids.
"One of the methods was, 'Hey, I just read this article about this happening. Has this ever happened to you? Do you know anybody that's ever happened to?'" said Scott.
CSPD said many of the scammers are from different states which makes them harder to find and prosecute.
However, Scott said the department's ICAC unit partners with 99 affiliate agencies to track down perpetrators of sextortion.