Sextortion (Webcam Blackmail)
Sextortion, otherwise known as Webcam Blackmail, frequently occurs when an unsuspecting individual, who is talking to someone via video chat, is tricked into performing explicit sexual acts, which are then recorded via their webcam and used as material to extort money from them. Alternatively, victims are tricked into sending explicit images of themselves to someone who then uses these in the same way. Threats often include exposure via social media or by sending material via email to friends, relatives and colleagues of the victim. Criminals often use fake identities on regular social media and dating websites in order to find victims. Around 95% of Sextortion victims are male, with a significant proportion falling into the 11-20 age group. Victims are often too embarrassed to talk to anyone about incidents of Sextortion , so the crime often goes unreported. Even so, National Crime Agency statistics show that the number of reported incidents have more than doubled in the year to November 2016. The consequences of Sextortion can be extremely serious, with 4 recorded suicides in the UK as a direct result.
The National Crime Agency website offers the following advice about what to do if you have been targeted:
- Don't panic - the police say they will take your case seriously, and will not judge
- Don't pay - many people who have paid continue to get more demands for money, and sometimes the offenders will still post the videos
- Don't communicate any more with the criminals - take screen shots of all messages, temporarily suspend your social media accounts so the evidence is kept, and report the incident to any social media service you use
- Preserve evidence - make a note of any details provided by the offenders and don't delete any correspondence