Orem Police in Utah have reported a significant increase in extortion and blackmail attempts during the first half of 2023. According to a Facebook post by the Orem Police Department, there has been a remarkable spike in offenses compared to the previous five years. The majority of these incidents involve the use of explicit photos sent through social media as a means of blackmail.
The statistics shared by the police department reveal that over 95% of the reported incidents involved the sending of explicit images through social media. Additionally, more than 80% of the reported incidents involved the use of social media for blackmail, with over 80% of the victims being under the age of 30. Shockingly, almost 25% of the reported cases involved minors being extorted.
As a result of these extortion attempts, victims have reportedly given thousands of dollars to scammers in 2023. The police department strongly advises against complying with such demands, as it only encourages further extortion. They urge individuals to exercise caution on social media platforms and refrain from sending sensitive images or information to strangers.
In response to these incidents, Orem Police recommend immediately filing a police report upon encountering an extortion or blackmail attempt. Blocking the person attempting to extort is also advised.
Extortion is defined by Utah law as the act of threatening to cause physical harm, including confinement or restraint, to the person being targeted. Threats may also involve accusations of a crime, exposing the victim to hatred and ridicule, revealing concealed information, initiating a strike or boycott, or taking personal property.
It is worth noting that in 2022, the FBI reported that at least 3,000 children, primarily teenage boys, fell victim to extortion after being deceived into sending sexually explicit photos of themselves. The Associated Press also linked dozens of suicides to similar activities.