Sextortion: What to Do if You Became a Victim of Blackmailing
We all think some things would never happen to us then unbelievably they do. Sextortion is one of those things people would never suspect they could fall prey to but they do more often than you would think.
What is Sextortion?
Sextortion is when someone entices you to perform a sexual act on camera and then blackmails you for money so they won’t expose you to family and friends. It usually starts with someone befriending you online. Often women are hired by organized crime to entice unsuspecting men. These women then get the men to engage in sexual conduct online, and they videotape it then threatened them with the evidence. Usually, the demand is money, but it can also be for images of a sexual nature or even sexual favors. The currency varies, but the risk of exposing your personal information is the same.
Many sextortion perpetrators are from outside the U.S. with intricate networks of employees conning dozens of victims at one time.
According to law enforcement, boys as young as 14 have been victims of Sextortion and the most common age range is between 21 and 30.
Some perpetrators hook you in with a chat and then gain access to your computer and all your sensitive data and hold it for ransom. Reports of threats against family and friends are also common.
There is also a new sextortion scam going around where people receive an email threatening to expose them and pornography on their computer, and shockingly it includes one of their real passwords, so victims are terrified. In this case check the person's identification via reverse email lookup. The thing is they don’t usually have any video to expose you with, but they do have your passwords. So you will need to address that problem but don’t worry about paying up for an idle threat. Hackers have admitted that many of the passwords are old can be purchased from the dark web. You can check this website to make sure your passwords have not been compromised - haveibeenpwned.com.
Tragically a lot of male suicides are linked to sextortion. Women are also vulnerable to sextortion cons.
Blackmailing and the Law
Blackmailing is a form of extortion and is considered a felony in the United States subject to fines, jail time, probation and parole. Usually, the offender has to make restitution to his or her victim as part of their punishment.
Threatening to expose embarrassing or shameful images or information about you to your family co-workers, friends or the public is a crime, and you have rights.
Blackmailing laws differ by state so if you fall prey to a sextortion scheme, find out how your state law can help protect you.
How to Report Extortion
If you are a victim of sextortion, contact the local police immediately. Also, contact your Internet provider and give them the details about the person you connected with and where so they can block their IP from your access point.
Do not pay the blackmailers and do not continue to communicate with them. Hand it off to the police and let them take over. They will not judge you, and they will take the crime seriously. Gather together all evidence you can including screenshots of people you talked to online, conversation chat transcripts and anything else that will help the police locate the offenders.
How to Protect Your Personal Information
First, be careful what you post online. Anything online is a potential public record and can be used against you later.
Social media is a place where many people share too much. Keep personal information personal.
Use a password vault to keep all your online and computer passwords safe. Lock potentially sensitive files that contain financial information or other personal information that would be devastating in the wrong hands.
When using your phone and other online devices, set up two-factor authentication for protection so no one can steal access and all your files.
Be sure your home network Wi-Fi is updated with the latest encryption and keep the password complex. Change passwords often especially if you are victim to sextortion or you suspect someone may have gained access to your private files.