By Peter D'Oench

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Florida International University has sent an email alert to students warning them about sextortion.

FIU Police Capt. Delrish Moss told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that four victims have been identified and the school is trying to raise awareness about a problem that is growing nationwide.

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Moss said, “One of our big concerns is making sure that there are no other victims. Typically, what happens is it starts as a friendly discussion on a dating app or some other social media app and then after someone gains your trust, they get you to send a picture of yourself, usually a nude picture of yourself. And once that happens they say, ‘Ah-ha, got you!’ And then they extort your on a separate app asking for money and saying they will expose you.”

Money is often paid out on accounts like Zelle or Cash App.

”The biggest thing you can do is not send a picture of yourself if you are meeting somebody or trying to date them and do not send a picture before you get to know who that person is. Doing that is a non because that person is often interested in exposing you or interested in you sexually,” said Moss.

Moss said this is a growing problem nationwide.

FIU is offering some tips:

—Make sure your social media accounts are private

—Block or ignore messages from strangers

—Do not open attachments from strangers.

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—Be suspicious if you meet someone through an online game or app

—Never send compromising pictures of yourself to anyone.

Dr. Asia Easton, associate professor of psychology at FIU, says Sextortion cases have risen during the pandemic.

“People’s were more virtual, their dating lives and their criminal lives,” she said. “People were going on line more often to meet sexual partners.  My own research also found that men were often victims of sextortion than women during the pandemic. Men have had more free time to go on line during the pandemic as women have had more household work and other responsibilities.”

Students said they were heeding the warning.

Giuliana Mogollon, a junior, said, “Just be careful and just text and communicate with people you know.”

Her sister, Rossana Mogollon, also a junior, said, “Just be careful and do not post pictures of yourself or send them to strangers.”

Marcel Arzola, a graduate student, said, “I think this is something that is very critical for my age group, In my personal option, we don’t pay enough attention to this because we think this can not happen to me.”

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Capt. Moss says if students think they have been victimized, they should call FIU PD. If they are not students and think they have been targeted, they should call police in their city.

Peter D'Oench