AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF)- Boys have become the recent target of “sextortion” scams. So, how can parents protect their children?

Tens of thousands of children are victims of sextortion every year. It’s a cyber crime that coerces children and teens to take explicit photos or videos of themselves.

Once they do, Jenna Sellitto, a Public Affairs Specialist with the FBI, explained that cyber criminals use them to blackmail the child for either more pictures or money.

“They target them on the internet via apps. Basically anything that connects to the internet. Gaming consoles, Instagram, TikTok, whatever.”

Criminals use social media to contact kids and get the photos with promises of modeling contracts, online game credits and even money. So, even if you don’t think your child would ever get caught up in the scam, the FBI says they have victims of sextortion as young as 8-years-old.

“It’s embarrassing. They don’t want to get in trouble. They just want it to go away,” said Sellitto.

So how do you protect your kids from sextortion? Limit internet use in younger kids and spot check their activity.

Most importantly, let them know they can always come to you for help.

“Well I think it’s just really important, again, to have an open line of communication with your kids. Sometimes it’s tough to talk about these topics, but it’s just necessary,” Sellitto said.

If your child is a victim of sextortion there are a few things you should do. Block the criminal and take screen shots of everything. Do not delete them. Immediately report the crime to local law enforcement then the FBI.

“So, here’s the most important part about this. Once the images are out there, we can’t recover them. Nobody can recover them. So that’s the devastating part about this kind of crime,” explained Sellitto.

You can report suspected sextortion crimes to the FBI by going to their website.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) also has tools and resources to help talk to your children about sextortion and other dangers on the internet.