URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — The University of Illinois Police Department is warning the community about a string of sexual extortion cases this week and advising on how to avoid falling victim to this trend.

Officials said that on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the UIPD received a report each day of students communicating with someone on Instagram and the conversation becoming sexual. In one instance, the student sent intimate photos of themselves; the other two were invited to a video call to engage in sex acts.

After the photos were sent and the video calls ended, officials said the offenders then demanded money from the students, threatening to post the content on public social media platforms or send it to their social media contacts. Officials did not say if any money was sent to the offenders.

Sexual extortion has been an issue at the University of Illinois in the past, with numerous reports made last academic year. The UIPD reported 10 such cases in the Spring 2023 semester, the last of which happened in April.

Officials added that they alerted the community to help raise awareness and enable others to take actions that increase safety and prevent similar crimes. Some tips they offered include the following:

  • Anyone who engages in intimate conversations online should know and trust the other person, and everyone involved should be a consenting adult
  • Do not share personal information on social media, which scammers can use to convince victims they are someone else
  • Use strong privacy settings and do not add someone as a social media friend unless they are someone you know personally

Officials also stressed that the only person responsible for sexual misconduct is the offender, not the victim.

Anyone who is unsure if they are dealing with a scam can call the UIPD by calling 217-333-1216. Anyone who is concerned about themselves or a friend as a result of these crimes can receive assistance from the Student Assistance Center, which can be reached at 217-333-0050.