Oh Baby: Parents need to reach out to victims of "Sextortion" - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Oh Baby: Parents need to reach out to victims of "Sextortion"

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

A warning to parents of kids of all ages.

We've heard of "sexting" - sending explicitly sexual messages or photos between mobile devices.

But what can happen when those suggestive, or even nude photos get into the wrong hands?

You may find yourself or your teen a victim of "sextortion."

Experts say this new cybercrime is a real problem.

Jeanne's boyfriend always said the naked photos he took of her would stay private.

Until the day she broke up with him.

"He started threatening me with the nude photos," Jeanne said. "He threatened to submit them to my company as well as post them on Facebook on the Internet and send them to all of my friends."

Scared, Jeanne actually went back to him for a short time. Just so the photos wouldn't get out.

"I was devastated. I was thinking that a million people could see my nude photos. And I had absolutely no control over it," she said.

Internet privacy expert and attorney Parry Aftab says while "sextortion" can happen to anyone, including adults like Jeanne, teens are especially vulnerable.

And it's not always ex-boyfriends or disgruntled friends.

Predators are using sexting as a weapon, too.

"When teens take and share sexual images, they don't want their parents their principal or the police to get a hold of them," Aftab said. "So that means when a predator wants them to do things, take more images or actually engage in sex, they say that they will make them public or send them to their parents to get them to comply."

Cases are popping up coast to coast.

An Alabama man was sentenced to 18 years in prison after sending threatening emails to more than 50 young women of whom he had acquired naked photos.

In Wisconsin, an 18-year-old received 15 years in prison after he was found guilty of posing as a girl on Facebook to trick male classmates into sending nude photos,which he then extorted for sex.

And in southern California, authorities arrested a man they say extorted more than 200 women.

"It is just horrific. It is disgusting and they've got to be stopped," Ross Ellis said.

Ross Ellis is the founder of the advocacy group "Love our Children USA".

She says, first, kids should be reminded that there can be legal consequences when it comes to sexting in general, including child pornography charges in some cases

And she stresses parents need to get involved to protect their children before it's too late.

"Parents need to not overreact," Ellis said. "They need to sit down with their teens and have a very important conversation. Nothing hysterical but, 'this is what can happen, this is happening."

And Aftab adds if your child is a victim of sextortion, get police involved as soon as possible.

"What you need to do is make sure that your children come to you early enough that you can do something to help them," Aftab said.

Jeanne finally broke it off with her boyfriend. But as far as she knows, those pictures remain on his computer to this day.

"They're still out there. And there's absolutely nothing I can do about it," she said.

Experts warn that teens who take or store nude photos of their underage girlfriend or boyfriend could be convicted of child pornography - even if they never send the pictures out.

If convicted, they could go to jail and be listed as a registered sex offender.

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