MU Police Department warns students about "sextortion" scams

Online extortion scam often targets college students using sexual pictures and videos.

April 5, 2023
Contact: Sara Diedrich, 573-882-3243,

The University of Missouri Police Department has fielded 10 reports this academic year of extortion involving sexual pictures through apps such as Snapchat and Instagram. This is a scam referred to as “sextortion” that often targets college students.

James Young, a crime prevention officer with MUPD, said sextortion scammers often begin a conversation flirting with an unsuspecting individual on an app such as Snapchat or Instagram. Eventually, the scammer solicits sexual pictures or videos. Once those photos or videos are sent, the scammer threatens to share the images if the victim doesn’t pay them money.

“When you’re online, it’s difficult to ascertain who you are interacting with,” Young said. “We strongly encourage students to consider the risks before sending or posting anything they might regret later.”

Here are some recommendations to keep a safer online profile:

  • Be selective about what you share online and who you share it with.
  • Be wary of messages from strangers. If you don’t know them, it’s best to ignore or block them.
  • Know that people can pretend to be anyone online — and be conscious of catfishing.
  • Do not share explicit photos of yourself, especially with someone you don’t know. Just because you believe it’s private doesn’t mean it always will be.
  • Be suspicious of individuals who ask you to switch to a different platform to chat.
  • Report suspicious accounts or behavior to the platform you are using and MUPD.
  • Be cautious. If something sounds too good or too sketchy to be true, it probably is.

Learn more by visiting If you have questions or concerns, contact MUPD at 573-882-7201.

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