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(also sex extortion)

Sextortion definition

Sextortion is blackmail that involves 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.

Real sextortion examples

2010: The Spanish police arrested a suspect who had allegedly hacked the webcam of a woman he met in an online chat session to obtain nude photos for sextortion.

2011: Luis Mijangos was convicted for hacking women’s devices, stealing their personal information, and sextorting them for more nude images.

2013: Daniel Perry killed himself after being tricked into making an explicit webcam recording and suffering sextortion as a result.

Stopping sextortion

  • Never send sexual content to strangers because it could be used to extort you. Even if the stranger doesn’t use the material against you directly, they may spread the material underground for bragging rights or themselves fall victim to a hacker attack.
  • Avoid posting sexual content online because criminals have multiple ways of tracking it down. They may identify you with facial and voice recognition technology or simply match you to a known email address or account name.
  • Keep your webcam covered when not in use to prevent anyone from secretly filming you.
  • Verify links and attachments before you click to avoid malware hijacking your webcam. Use NordVPN’s Threat Protection feature to weed out dangerous links and scan files that you download for malware.
  • Use a VPN like NordVPN to encrypt your communications and prevent online snoops from spying on your online activities.
  • Use dedicated antivirus software and update it regularly. Removing the infection from your device early will prevent sextortionists from obtaining compromising material.

Watch it explained: Sextortion scams

Further reading

Ultimate digital security