Sextortion – What it is & What you need to know
Our founder Wayne Denner is going great guns on the research side of things and we work very closely with him hear at Beat The Cyberbully in the Middle East.
We often take his content and rewrite elements for our blog, but this post is coming in all it’s original glory as it’s such an important topic, especially here in the UAE where topics like this are considered taboo and as such taken off the table for discussion or even acknowledgement.
Yes, we do live in a somewhat protected bubble here in the UAE, but we would all be remiss to think that this couldn’t happen, or more appropriately isn’t already happening.
Take directly from WayneDenner.com
‘Four men have died by suicide in the UK this year after being involved in sexual scams online. 864 cases involving online image bribery, more than double last year, have been reported. The NCA however say this type of crime is still ‘hugely unreported’.
When it comes to the Internet sometimes people you meet online or with whom you begin to form relationships with, aren’t who they say they are.
Criminals are using more sophisticated ways to befriend unsuspecting victims, persuading them to perform sexual acts in front of their webcam for financial gain. Many of these incidents have been targeted at young men but women can also be victims of this crime. All age groups are targetted with the NCA reporting ages from 14 yrs to 82 years but the 21-30 year old male is most vulnerable. Unsurprising – as this age group grew up with the internet, it features integrally in their lives and is a natural progression to use technology for flirting, to meet new people and within sexual relationships.
What is Sextortion?
Sextortion is a form of online blackmail in which criminals use the Internet and Social Media platforms to persuade victims to perform sex acts via their webcam. The webcam videos are recorded by the criminals who threaten to share and post the videos online to friends and family unless a ransom is paid. The NCA has evidence which suggests organised crime groups, mostly based overseas, are behind this type of crime.
Police in the UK have launched a campaign to raise awareness of the problem and have released a video on Facebook and YouTube warning of the dangers. According to reports more than 95% of victims are male.
What to do if you are a victim of Sextortion
The NCA has been rolling out the following advice on what to do if you are a victim of this type of crime.
Don’t panic – The Police can help and you are not alone. Get in touch with the Police they will take it seriously and deal with it in confidence.
Don’t Pay – Victims who have paid ransom requests typically continue to get more demands for higher amounts. Some criminals have even posted the videos once the ransom has been paid.
Don’t Communicate – Terminate your contact with the criminals. Take screenshots of all communication. The NCA recommends that you suspend your Facebook account, but do not delete it. Report the matter to the social media platform to have any videos blocked. You can also set up an alert to be notified with the video surfaces again.
Preserve evidence – Be sure to keep a copy of all information provided – any URLs, Skype IDs, Facebook or Youtube URLs or Western Union money transfer numbers. It is vital that you DO NOT DELETE ANY CORRESPONDENCE.
Report it – If you are under 18 report what has happened to CEOP.
Lastly, it may seem tempting and ‘easy’ to meet new people and form relationships online. The Internet is a great place to hang out with friends and connect with new people. Just be careful. And very vigilant. Take great care with what you share, who you form relationships with and who you trust online.
Sextortion, fraud and identity theft are on the increase due to the amount of time we spend online and how central technology is to our lives now. Be aware that there are risks, limit your alcohol intake and be discerning when forming relationships online.
If this has happened to you and you’re under 18 please talk to an adult that you trust. It may feel like there is no way out, but remember there are professionals who can help you.
You can also get help from: