Sextortion is a type of cyber extortion (or when someone threatens to do something harmful unless you do what they ask). In the case of sextortion, a malicious party may threaten to distribute evidence of the victim’s sexual activity unless the victim pays a ransom or meets another demand. Find out how sextortion happens, how you can protect yourself – and how to report it.
Sextortion is a form of sexual blackmail involving the victim’s sexually suggestive pictures or messages. Blackmail material may be obtained by targeting the victim with a dating scam, trawling through their social media, or hacking their device. Criminals then threaten to release the material to the public unless their demands are met.
While young people are particularly at risk of sextortion, it can happen to people of any age.
The perpetrator may try to extort money in return for not revealing the sensitive content – or make the victim do something against their will. Regardless of what they ask the victim to do, sextortion is a cybercrime and needs to be reported.
Sextortion or sexual blackmail can happen on various online platforms (particularly where webcams are used). Criminals may target people on dating sites, social networks, messaging apps, webcams, or adult sites.
Phishing is one of the most common methods of sextortion. You receive an email claiming that the sender has cracked one of your accounts and now possesses your sexually explicit content.
Scammers ask for money or demand that you do something else (e.g., film and send them intimate videos).
To prove they’re not joking, their sextortion email may also include your credentials, which they most likely found on some breached database.
Criminals do their homework well: they might know your employer, your partner’s name, and the squash club you regularly visit. It makes their demands more convincing – and in a state of shock – victims tend to pay up.
Hackers may use malware to take control of your camera and microphone – and even record what you type on your keyboard.
You may not have the slightest idea that somebody is snooping on you. Then one day, you receive a message with your intimate footage and a demand for money.
There are even websites broadcasting hacked cameras online, disturbing as it might sound.
Blackmailers, like cyberbullies, may use various online platforms to attack.
They may target unsuspecting victims on social media sites, dating apps, or other platforms for meeting and communicating with others.
Cybercriminals operate in several ways, but typically, they use these platforms to gain their victims’ trust and convince them to perform sexual acts on camera. While this might seem like a game at first, victims soon realize that their videos are held for ransom.
It’s estimated that 71% of sextortion victims are under the age of 18. Criminals often operate from foreign countries, making it hard for local police to catch them.
News about Facebook “sextortionists” have made headlines many times over the past year. If you’re wondering how to deal with Facebook sextortion, the key is to remain calm.
Remember that not all blackmailers follow through on their threats. Your best course of action is to stop engaging with them immediately and report the crime. We’ll cover how to deal with sextortion in more detail later.
1 in 5 people have had their accounts hacked at least once. Social media messaging archives contain countless explicit (and very private) photos and videos. No wonder these archives attract hackers looking to get a dime.
Once hackers find an account with valuable content, they demand money or blackmail the victim in other ways.
Unfortunately, due to the sensitivity of the issue, many victims don’t report these cases, making the perpetrators even harder to catch.
It isn’t always cybercriminals who may threaten to publish your sensitive information. Sometimes, it can be someone you know and even trust.
Sextortion by someone you know is just as common – whether it’s a former long-term partner or someone you only met once. People may blackmail others for many reasons: anger, spite, financial strain, and even loneliness.
It’s important to remain mindful of your actions and limit what you share with others because people aren’t always as trustworthy as they may seem.
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If someone is blackmailing you, try not to panic. Even though it may feel like the world is collapsing, help and support are available. It’s important to remember that threatening to reveal your sensitive content is a tactic – and blackmailers don’t always follow through on their threats.
Here’s what to do if someone’s threatening to publish your sensitive sexual content:
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