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  3. FBI Warns About “Sextortion” in Arizona

FBI Warns About “Sextortion” in Arizona

Sep 21, 2020 | Extortion, Internet Crimes, Sex Crimes

Clearly, the computer age has changed the world significantly. That includes new crimes – or at least new ways of committing existing crimes – that would never be thought of decades ago. A recent example is what is known generally as “sextortion.” And according to the FBI, it is prevalent in Arizona.

What is Sextortion?

A.R.S. 13-1428 defines sexual extortion as, among other things, knowingly threatening another person to allow their private parts to be filmed, photographed, or exhibited. The threat can be to distribute a photo or a film which depicts the other person’s genitals, or other private parts. It is a class 3 felony, but if the victim is 14 years old or younger, it is a class 2 felony.

Sextortion in Arizona

The FBI warning concerns incidents which can begin on any site where people communicate and meet. We assume this includes dating sites, although the specifics of the site do not appear to make a difference in the conduct described. That conduct consists of

  • Meeting on a dating or other site amenable to communication.
  • One person convincing another (through manipulation or otherwise) to produce an explicit photo of himself or herself.
  • The person demands additional explicit photos or videos, under threat of harming the other person or releasing and exposing the original image(s) previously supplied. The demand could also be for sex.

While explicitly prohibited under Arizona law, there is no specific federal criminal statute on sextortion. There are, however, a number of federal laws that have been used to prosecute individuals accused of it. Most, like 18 U.S.C. § 2251, involve the sexual exploitation of children. In other cases, the law used may focus on child pornography. And finally, some defendants have been charged under the federal general extortion statute, 18 U.S.C. § 875.

In any event, the FBI says that there have been a high number of such incidents in Arizona recently, and is warning the public – primarily minors and their parents – to avoid situations that could lead to a problem. Note that in the example given by the FBI, the process begins when the victim supplies an explicit photo or video.

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