Icon of computer screen with lock to indicate internet security

In our schools, district and surrounding community, safety extends beyond physical security. BSD families are also encouraged to familiarize themselves with current events and best practices related to web safety. The FBI recently shared a web safety topic that can impact students. In partnership with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), the FBI has issued a national public safety alert regarding an explosion in incidents of children and teens being coerced into sending explicit images online and extorted for money — a crime known as financial sextortion. It is reported that over 3,000 minor victims were targeted in the past year across the United States.

According to the FBI, “Through deception, predators convince the young person to produce an explicit video or photo. Once predators acquire the images, they threaten to release the compromising material unless the victim sends money or gift cards. Often the predators demand payment through a variety of peer-to-peer payment applications. In many cases, however, predators release the images even if payments are made. The shame, fear, and confusion that victims feel when they are caught in this cycle often prevents them from asking for help or reporting the abuse.”

BSD has also been made aware of similar issues impacting our area. In some cases, extortionists have used false identities on social media to attempt to gain access to personal information and convince minors to send them explicit photos — or photos that are not explicit but could be altered to appear as such. Extortionists may then threaten to “ruin the lives” of their victims by publishing any sensitive information they receive, to influence their victims to pay them with money or gift cards.


Tips for Preventing Cybercrime

  • Here are some safety measures that students, families and staff can take to protect themselves from cybercrimes:
  • Do not add or accept any social media connections without being absolutely certain that you know who it is beforehand.
  • Do not open a message or click on a link from an email address or name that you do not know. Delete it immediately.
  • Do not send any information or images via social media to someone you don’t know.
  • Understand that every action taken on social media, and online in general, leaves a digital footprint. This digital footprint can always be accessed, even if images “disappear” on some platforms.
  • Understand that any image of a nude/partially nude minor that is shared with or viewed by another person — regardless of intent — can legally be considered child pornography.


Reporting Cybercrime

Any extortion attempts and/or other cybercrimes, should be reported to local law enforcement, FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center, as well as the safety/privacy portal of the social media platform(s) involved:


Social-Emotional Supports

Incidences of cybercrime and the situations that follow can be extremely upsetting for students and their families and can be disruptive to the school climate. Please encourage open and honest communication with your students and be aware of any changes in behavior, including signs of depression. Counselors are also available to support students who have concerns, feelings of anxiety, or would like to talk with a trusted adult.


Technology Safety Resources


Mental Health Resources

The Bellevue School District acknowledges that we learn, work, live and gather on the Indigenous Land of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the Duwamish and Snoqualmie Tribes. We thank these caretakers of this land, who have lived and continue to live here, since time immemorial.