Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - KGVO has had several stories in the past year about teens being 'sextorted' after sharing intimate photos with strangers.

Now the FBI has added its considerable weight in helping the victims of such sextortion cases with a series of Public Service Announcements.

KGVO News spoke to Special Agent Curtis Cox with the Denver field office on Friday about the rapidly growing number of sextortion cases being perpetrated against Montana teenagers.

Vicious Predators are Preying on Children in 'Sextortion' Cases

“Recently, our office has seen a significant increase in the number of financially motivated sextortion cases that are being reported to us,” began Special Agent Cox. “In these cases, typically the victims are young boys between the ages of 13 to 17, and they're being tricked into sending intimate images of themselves and then those images are being used against them, to extort them essentially for money.”

Cox said the photos are then used to extort money on the threat that their lives will be ruined if the photos are made public.

A Young Person has Little Power in Such an Extortion Case

“The threat is that if the money's not sent the pictures are going to be shared with friends, family, fellow students, sports teams, and colleges they've applied to; anybody that the bad actors have been able to identify as being connected to these kids.”

Agent Cox emphasized the fact that these are very powerful and sophisticated criminal organizations who deliberately take advantage of vulnerable young children.

Parents are Asked to Remember Their Children are Victims

“From our perspective, these kids are victims of very sophisticated criminal people that know exactly what buttons to push to get what they want,” he said. “If a kid feels like he's going to be judged by reporting this, he is much less likely to do so. And so parents and friends just be open to what your kid tells you. Be supportive, help them find the resources they need, whether it's law enforcement, or otherwise, if this is reported to you, and understand that, again, they are victims.”

Click here to see more help from the FBI for those who have become victims of sextortion.

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