POTSDAM, N.Y. (WWNY) - State police have issued a word of warning about teens being targeted by criminals while online. It comes on the heels of a case in St. Lawrence County in which a teenager ended up taking his own life.
Investigators say the suspects locate teen victims on social media, friending or following the teens, then gaining their trust.
When trust is established, investigators say the suspects ask for photos and/or videos of the teen, usually provocative in nature.
Once the predators get the material, police say they demand payment, sometimes thousands of dollars, or they threaten to release the images on social media.
According to police, at least one case has resulted in a teen victim’s suicide.
The parents of 15 year old Riley Basford, a Potsdam High School sophomore, say police discovered their son was told to pay $3,500 or personal photos of him would be made public.
Basford took his own life March 30. Memorial services are being held Monday.
State police have offered the following internet safety tips for parents:
- Talk to your children about going online and set rules about where and when they are surfing or chatting.
- Monitor your children’s social media accounts.
For kids and teens:
- Be careful what you post. Never share personal information online. This includes full name, address, or phone number.
- Don’t accept friend requests from strangers.
- Don’t open emails, click on links, or download anything from unknown senders.
- Never share photos online or through texts or direct message with people you don’t know.
- If you, or someone you know is having thoughts of harming yourself, talk to someone who can help.
If you feel you have been a victim of this type of crime, contact your local police.