SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - You've told your kids not to talk to strangers, but do they know that goes for the internet too?
According to FBI agents, thousands of kids are falling victim to what they're calling "sextortion".
You know your kids are on the computer but do you know who they're talking to?
Chances are you don't.
According to Springfield FBI Special Agent Mark Karangekis, some children are falling victim to what they call "sextorion."
"Sextortion is a technique used by sexual predators on the internet," Karangekis said.
Karangekis says sexual predators will troll social media sites for children, they'll start talking to them and soon they'll send them a link, that installs a virus on your computer.
He says the virus gives the predator the ability to access personal information and turn on your webcam without you knowing.
He says once they have a compromising picture or embarrassing information, the kids are coerced into sending more.
"They will say, well now we want you to do this, now we want you to do that. If you don't do this and do that, then we'll start showing these pictures to your parents, your grandparents. These kids are humiliated and concerned and they end up really in essence helping these people in creating child pornography," Karangekis added.
These two men, Patrick Connolly and Ivory Dickerson, were convicted of victimizing thousands of children in this way for years.
Now, the FBI wants you to protect yourself by covering your webcam when you're not using it, monitor who your children are e-mailing and communicating with, educate and communicate with your children.
"We talk to them about strangers approaching them at a bus stop, but we don't talk to them about strangers approaching them through the web. You need to communicate with your children," Karangekis said.
Karangekis also says don't assume your antivirus protects you from ALL intrusions as criminals are always discovering how to get around it.
More tips from the FBI:
Turn off your computer when you aren't using it.
Cover your webcam when not in use.
If your computer has been compromised and you are receiving extortion threats, don't be afraid to talk to your parents or to call law enforcement.
Don't open attachments without independently verifying that they were sent from someone you know.
It's okay to be suspicious.
If you receive a message with an attachment from your mother at 3 am, maybe the message is not really from your mother.