The Federal Bureau of Investigation warns that AI deepfakes of innocent images have played a major role in sextortion scams this year.
What is the Complete Story?
According to the FBI, reported sextortion scams increased by 322% between February 2022 and 2023. Last week, there was a significant spike in these scams due to Artificial Intelligence generated deepfakes, the FBI said.
However, sextortion is a crime that involves putting pressure on victims to provide their sexually explicit photos or videos and then threatening them to share their images in public.
Scammers can easily twist innocent images or videos into sexually explicit photos that are true to life and impossible to discern with the help of AI. Then these scammers used to weaponize these AI images against victims or their families to coerce money out of them.
Sometimes they also do this to get real sexually graphic images from them.
According to the latest FBI report, dozen sextortion-related suicides have been reported across the country. However, most of the victims, including minors, are unaware that their images are being used.
They get manipulated until it is brought to their attention by someone else. According to the report, more boys have been victimized than girls. Last July, 17-year-old Gavin Guffey received a message from someone who pretended to be a girl on his Instagram handle.
Gavin starts chatting with that person. The conversation continued between them for a long time, and Gavin began to feel attached to the person. And then, once that person asked Gavin to turn on the vanish mode, which allows messages in their chat to disappear.
Further, both began sharing pictures of each other. It led to a demand for money and manipulation until Gavin ended his life.
Largest Sextortion Case
One of the largest sextortion cases was reported in the US, a 31-year-old Lucas Michael Chansler, who targeted more than 350 victims from 26 states between 2007 and 2010.
According to the FBI, Lucas used 135 different online IDs to hide his identity and location. He used to befriend girls between 13 and 18 as a 15-year-old boy on MySpace.
In 2014, he pleaded guilty to child pornography charges and was sentenced to 104 years in prison. However, more than 200 victims are out there who still have not been identified in his case.
President and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Michelle DeLaune, made a statement that the young victims of sextortion crime feel like they’re alone and there’s no way out.
But Michelle said we want victims to know that they’re not alone. Earlier this year, more than 10,000 sextortion-related reports were received by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
CEO Michelle DeLaune said parents need to talk to their children about what to do if they become the target of sextortion crime.