(NEWS10) — New York State Police are warning New Yorkers, specifically parents, after cases of teens being target by criminals through social media while online have been reported. This practice is often referred to as “catfishing” which is when someone online pretends to be someone else in order to gain trust, often with the goal of obtaining money or other goods/services.

Investigators say suspects are finding teen victims through social media, friending or following them, then gaining their trust. Once trust is established, investigators say suspects ask for photos/videos of the teen, generally provocative ones, then demand payment, sometimes thousands of dollars, otherwise threats are made to release the photos online via social media.

Sadly, police say at least one case has resulted in a teen victim committing suicide.

State Police offer the following internet safety tips, for teens, or anyone who goes online. 

For parents:

  • Talk to your children about going online and set rules about where and when they are surfing or chatting.
  • Monitor your children’s social media accounts.

For kids and teens:

  • Be careful what you post. Never share personal information online. This includes full name, address, or phone number. 
  • Don’t accept friend requests from strangers.  
  • Don’t open emails, click on links, or download anything from unknown senders. 
  • Never share photos online or through texts or direct message with people you don’t know.  
  • If you, or someone you know is having thoughts of harming yourself, talk to someone who can help.
  • If you feel you have been a victim of this type of crime, contact your local police.