Local youths being extorted over social media

POUGHKEEPSIE – The Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office is investigating several cases of local youths being extorted via social media over the last week.

The extortion begins when the perpetrator befriends the child on social media as someone their age, then at some point asks the child to share explicit photos of themselves.

Once photos are shared they blackmail the child by telling them that the photos will be posted and shared with others unless money is paid.

In some cases, the perpetrator asks for the money in the form of gift cards because they know many kids still have unspent cards from Christmas and using them is less likely to alert parents and other authority figures.

So far the sheriff’s office has one case in which the perp did post the explicit photos of the child after non receiving the money they demanded.

If anyone has any information about these cases, thinks they may be a victim, or knows someone who may be a victim, they are urged to contact Det. J. Cohen at 845-486-3820 or via email at jcohen@dutchessny.gov. The sheriff’s office may also be contacted on the tipline at 845-605-CLUE (2583) or dcsotips@gmail.com. All information will be kept confidential.

The sheriff’s office is also asking parents and caregivers to make their children aware of those incidents and reinforce the best ways for them to stay safe while using the internet and social media.