EAGLE COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — “Several” male teens in Eagle County, Colorado, are reporting to police that they have been scammed into sending sexually explicit photos and then threatened that if they don’t send money to the scammer, those pictures will be leaked online or sent to friends or family.

Police are describing the situations as having a common pattern: A teen will receive a friend request from a complete stranger that starts off innocently and then proceeds with a “female” scammer sending sexually suggestive images to the victim and expecting photos in return. 

When the teen responds with intimate photos, the “digital blackmail” begins, according to police. The scammer will demand money or threaten the victim to share intimate photos online or with the victim’s friends or family lists. 

Police said the images shared are typically not of the scammer but are likely photos from other victims, and the scammer may even be living in another country. They are warning teens to not accept friend requests from strangers and to never share personal information or sexually explicit photos.

If you or someone you know falls victim to this type of digital blackmail, do not pay them any money, don’t delete anything, and make sure to preserve any evidence with screenshots, authorities say. It is important to end all communication with the scammer, block them and report if you are being blackmailed to local authorities.

Authorities are describing this crime as a form of “sextortion” or non-consensual porn and can also be a type of “revenge porn” from persons that a victim was once intimate with.

Distribution of intimate images without consent is a term used to describe the distribution of sexually graphic images of individuals without their consent. Authorities are warning that once the explicit images have been posted to the internet, often they cannot be deleted even on private accounts.