Human Trafficking Task Force offering educational seminars on extortion

Human Trafficking Event

The West Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force is offering a series of events educating the public about sex-related online extortion.

The unit has seen an almost 200% increase in the number of reports involving unlawful distribution of private images for purposes of revenge or extortion.

In many cases, adult offenders pose as someone younger and contact children and teenagers through social networking sites. They later persuade them to move their communications to more anonymous messaging or video chat apps, eventually threatening to post or share images they obtain unless the victim sends more explicit content or pay money.

“We have worked cases like this involving minors and college-aged young adults,” said WAHTTF Commander Capt. Phil Simpson. “In many cases, it’s a situation that spiraled out of control and the victim felt they had no way out of the situation.

“Educating parents and children can help them recognize red flags, and potentially stop a situation like this before it happens. We hope that talking openly about this crime will help victims understand it’s not their fault, and to feel comfortable asking for help.”

Both events will be held at the Northport Civic Center. The session for adults is from 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 23 and will focus on the problems kids can run into on social media, gaming and other sites and give them knowledge and tools to monitor their online activity. Light refreshments will be served.

The session for children and high-schoolers is from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30 and will be broken into groups for elementary, middle and high school students. Presentations will be age-appropriate for each group and address how to avoid potential situations that can lead to these crimes, how to seek help and how to protect themselves and their friends. Dinner will be served.

You must register to attend. Contact Sgt .Ashley Blalock at ablalock@cityofnorthport.org or call 205-248-4750.

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