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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

FBI warns of increase in 'sextortion' schemes targeting teens

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Tuesday, January 23, 2024   

January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and the FBI says financially motivated sextortion -- often targeting teen boys -- went up 20% from October 2022 to March 2023 compared to the same period the year before.

Scammers will pose as an attractive girl on social media or gaming sites, ask the boy to send nude photos or videos, then threaten to post them online if the victim doesn't pay up. FBI Special Agent Curtis Cox said the threats often cause extreme mental anguish.

"That fear of being exposed that way causes these kids to panic, sometimes they attempt to make the payments, which is a big mistake," Cox explained. "It doesn't solve the problem; it only exacerbates it. And unfortunately, oftentimes we see this anxiety lead to self-harm or thoughts of suicide."

The FBI said between October 2021 and March 2023, the feds got more than 13,000 reports of online financial sextortion of minors, involving more than 12,600 victims, which the agency said contributed to at least 20 suicides.

Cox asks parents to discuss sextortion with their kids -- and show compassion if their child has fallen prey.

"These kids are victims to criminals who know exactly what to say and what to do to get what they want," Cox continued. "If your kid does report this to you, don't judge. Don't be angry. Look at them as a victim and help them get the help and the resources that they need to get through this."

Victims can report the crime at 1-800-CALL-FBI or online at tips.fbi.gov.


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