The Riverton Police Department is warning the public to be careful about sending photos — even innocent ones — to strangers online after handling the most recent of Wyoming’s online sextortion cases.
A 16-year-old boy’s mother contacted the department Monday morning to say her son met someone online, whom he believed to be female.
Police were not convinced, putting the pronoun “she” in quotation marks in their account of the incident.
The contact asked for a picture of the boy, who in turn sent “her” a picture of his face, says the RPD call log.
“A short while later, ‘she’ returned the picture and it had been photoshopped and was now pornographic,” the log says.
“She” then demanded a $500 gift card, saying “she” would post the picture online if he didn’t send it.
A Riverton police officer tried to contact the person extorting the teen but was unable to do.
The department took a report for documentation.
“It almost goes without saying that folks need to be very careful with any personal information given out online,” reads the log.
State Police Sound Alarm
This scenario is just what a state sex-crime investigator warned about last month in a legislative meeting.
Chris McDonald, commander of the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) taskforce for Wyoming, warned the public about this scenario in April after issuing prior warnings in the media – and after the FBI has issued similar warnings as well.
Often people posing as attractive women online will convince minor-aged boys to make sexually explicit images and videos of themselves, then blackmail them for more, McDonald told the legislative Joint Judiciary Committee at the time.
But McDonald also warned about deepfakes and “CGI,” or fabricated images, that weren’t necessarily pornographic when first taken.
Similar to the Riverton boy’s situation, a girl in Wyoming was blackmailed when a suspect got into her snapchat story, copied a “completely innocent” photo of her in a bathing suit, and altered it to make it look sexually graphic.
“(He) sent it back to our victim saying if you don’t send me more actual images and videos I’m going to post this to the school and everything else,” he said.
McDonald urged legislators to adapt their laws and funding around the new landscape of technological vice.
“Technology is an arms race,” he said. “Every time we feel like we get somewhere, something else is created. It’s almost the worst case of whack-a-mole you’ve ever played in your life.”
Clair McFarland can be reached at: Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com