BOSTON (WHDH) - The Boston office of the FBI is sending a warning to teens and parents as they see an uptick in “sextortion” crimes across social media apps and gaming chat rooms.

Investigators say that there has been an increase of adults posing as young girls online and targeting teenage boys.

“An adult coerces a minor child, a minor victim, to produce and send explicit, sexually explicit pictures or videos,” special agent Eric Slaton explained. “The predator basically turns the tables on the victim and says, ‘Hey you just sent me these images, if you do not send me more, then I will release them to either your family or your friends.”

To stay protected, the FBI says there are a few things kids can do.

“Know who you’re speaking with, be cognizant of your passwords, do not provide any personal information to individuals you don’t know, don’t send images and videos you don’t want out there,” Slaton said. “Once you lose control and push that send button on those images, you lose control over those images.”

Should kids fall prey to these traps, the FBI said they want them to come forward to help put a stop to the predators behind the computer screen.

“Don’t be embarrassed, we understand that it is a tough situation,” he said. “We are not looking at the minor victim like they did anything wrong… and just be totally honest with what we can do and that’s the best way for us to track down these predators.”

They warn people not to delete any of the messages because they need them for evidence. They say they are really hoping to crack down on these types of crimes and keep people from selling the images on child pornography websites as well as other sellers.

So far this year, investigators said they have received more than 18,000 “sextortion” complaints across the country.

(Copyright (c) 2024 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox