Scams are a thing we have to protect ourselves from in Tyler, Texas, Dallas, Austin or all around the state, really, on a daily basis. We have to be careful when we open a web browser. We have to be careful when looking through our email. We have to be careful when answering a phone call or receiving a text message. Scammers are on a constant attack to try and steal our money or our personal information. Even our kids are not immune to these attacks. These attacks are brutal and could even lead them into taking their own life.

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Groups Targeting Your Teens

September 12, 2023, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) put out a warning to parents of online groups that are targeting your teens, not only in East Texas, but all across the country. These online groups go by several names including 676, 764, CVLT, Court, Kaskar, Harm Nation, Leak Society and H3II. These groups will even spinoff and form other groups with other monikers just to throw off authorities. These groups use social media or mobile apps to contact and threaten a teen into doing serious crimes like murder, harming animals or other acts of violence. They will also convince a teen to produce sexually explicit videos or photos that are then passed around online.

Who These Groups Target

These groups will target kids between the ages of 8 and 17 years old. Most of their victims are LGBTQ+ youth, have mental health issues or are just targeted because of their race. These groups will threaten, coerce, blackmail or extort a victim into producing explicit content that they say will be sent to family and/or friends or just posted online for anyone to see.

Swatting or Doxxing

Another dangerous tactic used against a victim is either Swatting or Doxxing. Swatting is where law enforcement is called about a false threat that would warrant a SWAT team showing up. We've seen this on the news sometimes with tragic results. Doxxing is where the scammer will steal the personal information of a teen and post it online. These threats are used if the teen victim refuses to comply with their demands.

Scammers Do Not Care

These scammers are ruthless and do not care about the wellbeing of their victim. The scammers will go as far as having a victim live stream their suicide for the scammers on personal pleasure.

Warning Signs

The FBI encourages parents to talk to their teens about what apps or social media channels they are using. Let your teens know the dangers of posting videos or photos online as they can easily be taken and spread around no matter what the app says. Watch your children for signs they may have fallen victim to one of these attackers, especially if the attacker is forcing them into a self-harm or even a suicidal situation:

  • Sudden behavior changes such as becoming withdrawn, moody, or irritable.
  • Sudden changes in appearance, especially neglect of appearance.
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits.
  • Dropping out of activities and becoming more isolated and withdrawn.
  • Scars, often in patterns.
  • Fresh cuts, scratches, bruises, bite marks, burns, or other wounds.
  • Carvings, such as words or symbols, on the skin.
  • Wearing long sleeves or pants in hot weather.
  • Threatening to commit suicide and openly talking about death, not being wanted or needed or not being around.

What You, the Parent, Should Do

Parents, be vigilant. Make sure your teen knows that no matter the promises an app gives, anything they post for others to see can be taken and used for a purpose other than making their friends laugh. Make sure your teens know the dangers that exist online and how easily an attacker can get ahold of them.

For more information, go to ic3.gov. If you feel your teen has become a victim, you can file a report through the following links:

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