Sextortion cases are on the rise!
Nowadays, as the kids from all over the world are connected to the internet, the possibility of them being used or threatened in a way is high. Sextortion, sexual exploitation, in which by abusing the power and coercing and threatening someone by releasing sexual images or information about them is on the rise.
The majority of the extortion complaints during that were received during 2018 were mainly part of a sextortion campaign in which victims were receiving the emails threatening them that their pornographic videos or other in some way compromising information will be sent to their parents, friends, coworkers or other contacts in case a victim does not pay a ransom. Mainly, those who abused the victims thought of shame as being a tremendous weapon that can be used against victims. However, if the sextortion cases were on the rise during 2018, throughout this year, extortion by email according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center rose to 51146 reported crimes.
Mainly, those who threaten the victims pretend that they have victims’ real passwords, personalizing the victims’ information, pretending they know every aspect of victim’s life even better the very victim do, so people might be terrified that they’ve done something even if that’s not the case.
There are, of course, the examples of real sextortion, especially involving the theft of real nude photos or videos. However, hoax sextortion emails have no basis in reality.
When the scammers send these emails our as some kind of a form letter, they include the claims about having the evidence of victim’s affairs, that they have hacked person’s webcam to take the photos or videos of somehow have the evidence of pornographic material you’ve viewed.
The experts advise the people who receive such emails not to take it too seriously and to stop to think twice. A healthy amount of skepticism can help people to realize that the scammers most certainly haven’t been recording you nor do they have any type of this information.
Criminals usually ask the victims to send unusual sums of money – $514, $607, $618. What is important for them is to spark enough panic for the victims to start thinking into giving them what they want. Criminals usually rely on leaked email addresses that were stolen from huge companies or email providers.
The only reason why the sextortion works so well is that people, especially young people nowadays have come to believe that there’s no such thing as privacy these days. They think that anyone can spy on them at any time, use their personal information, etc.
The phenomenon has grown with the use of social media, it certainly can affect anyone, but experts say that young men are particularly vulnerable. The majority of the victims are men between 18 and 24, but some of the victims have been as young as 14. However, there are cases when the victims were in their 50s to 80s. There were cases when even teenage girls were affected – targeted over Instagram, getting messages. Someone will coerce them that they have been scouted into a modeling agency and ask them for their photos. It will go on till the moment that a girl has to send explicit images and that’s when the case reverts to sextortion.
Nevertheless, it’s not just the social media that targets the sextortion scammers, those are also gaming sites. Teenage boys who are trying to advance within a game to get to a different level, in order to get a high score might be scammed because that’s the point when someone comes on the scene pretending to be somebody else, offering cheat codes or in-app purchases to get more armors so that they can advance in a game. Usually, nobody in a child’s surroundings is aware that their child is the victim of sextortion. That’s one of the reasons why the children should be educated that when something that looks like any kind of extortion happens to them they should at least tell their parents and it will be further taken into the investigation.
The boy, 20-year-old, described the way he was threatened: he met a woman online whom he thought was interested in getting into a relationship with him. They started making video calls, getting intimate and that’s when he agreed to let himself be filmed masturbating. In this way, he became the victim of the international criminal gang who recorded the footage and was playing it back at him. They have got the names and contact details of his friends and family. He was persuaded into transferring $150 to an account, but soon they came back for more. Eventually, the good decision happened – the boy went to the police and has been given advice on how to help try to catch his blackmailers if they get back in contact.
There are ways of protecting oneself in some way. The experts advise that you update your spam filters for them to catch the latest version of the scam, to change passwords often or even to use a password manager. Multifactor authentication that gives a person the option of using other methods for logging in than passwords can also reduce worries.
People also should be aware that there are serious risks of getting naked on cameras. Once the footage is made, it’s gone and it’s out of their hands so nobody knows what happens next. Think twice before getting naked in front of any kind of webcam.
The final element is that if you receive an email and it worries you, you should report it, either to the company’s IT department or to the police, they are well aware of these scams.