What is Sextortion ?
Sextortion, a portmanteau of the words "sexual" and "extortion", and is the threat of distributing sexual materials unless a victim complies with demands (often involving the payment of huge sums of money). It is a form of scam that has unfortunately increasing in popularity in recent years given advances in technology and the advent of COVID. It is often known as the "naked-chat blackmail".
Common Types of Sextortion
LinkedIn: It is a type of sextortion which becoming increasingly popular. The victims are selected based on their profile, their listed occupation and level of seniority. The victims are then approached by a good looking man or woman, posing as a similar level executive, who adds them on LinkedIn and strike a conversation through the chat function thereon. The conversation typically becomes very sexual, and the victim is eventually induced to perform sexual acts during a Skype or Zoom video call which is entirely recorded by the scammer.
Online Dating Websites: Akin to Romance Scams, scammers use dating website to find their victims and gather information about them under the guise of wanting to know them better. The victims, looking for a romantic partner, often lower their guards and divulge a lot of information about themselves. This allows the scammers to find out whether the victim is worth investing time on or not. Over time, the scammers will try to induce the victim to believe that he or she is in an online relationship with the scammer and will be induced to share sexual material of him/herself.
Deepfake Video: This is where the scammers use Deepfake technology to create fake videos where the face of the victim is inserted in sexually explicit videos. The technology is so advanced that it is sometimes difficult for the public to tell the difference between a real video and a fake one.
What to Do if You Are a Victim of Sextortion ?
If you are reading this, it means that you are very likely already a victim of sextortion. For your own well-being, we recommend that you consider adopting the following recommendations to stop or limit the damages.
Do Not Panic: It is important to recognize early on that you are being blackmailed and that there is a way out of this situation. Do not keep silent about this, talk to your friends and family, no matter how embarrassing the situation is.
Do Not Pay: It is essential not to give in to the demands of the extortionist. Otherwise, you can end up being on the hook for a long period of time without any prospect of things improving.
Do Not Further Contact the Extortionist: This is probably the most critical recommendation on this page. Ignore the extortionist, do not engage with him. Your tormentor thrives on getting your attention and manipulating you into doing what they want. We do not recommend blocking the extortionist early on, just ignore him or her. If you block them too early, the extortionist might use various telephone numbers or online accounts to try to get in touch with you. Avoid giving any attention whatsoever to that person. Over time, that person will lose interest and move to another target.
Do Not Delete Anything: Everything relating to your case should be kept in multiple copies. Take screenshots and save them carefully. If the information is stored on your phone and computer, they should be backup regularly.
Do Report to the Police: You need to report the situation to the police as soon as possible. Getting them involved early is a good way of maximizing the chances of the culprit being arrested. Blackmail is a very serious offence, and they might be able to engineer a situation with you where they can catch the extortionist red handed.
Do Talk to a Lawyer: If you paid any sums of money to the extortionist, make sure to speak to a lawyer and let him or her know the details of your case. A lawyer is best suited to tell you what options are available to you and whether recovery is possible in the circumstances or whether other (legal) actions should be taken.
Do Close or Limit Access to your Social Media Accounts to the Public: Your social media accounts provide a lot of information to the scammers that might be used against you.
Do Change Your Passwords: If you believe there are any chances that your passwords have been compromised, change them all in one go.
Ultimately, there is no perfect way of handling a situation where sextortion is at play, but there are wrong ways. Paying to make the problem to go away is the surest way that the problem will in fact not go away. These scammers look at victims as business opportunities; they will take everything the victim will give without batting an eye. And even if the scammer disappears, he/she will often do so temporarily until he/she sees an opportune moment to demand more money from the victim.
If you are a victim of sextortion, do not keep silent about it and reach out to someone who has the relevant experience handling cases like this.
If you have additional questions which are not addressed here or wish to schedule an appointment to discuss your case, please contact us by telephone on +852 2176 4777 or by email at [email protected].