Sextortion (from “sexual” + “extortion”) is an online scam that attempts to extort money from victims through sexual blackmail on social media or with fake threatening emails.
How does it work on social media?
- the scammer uses a fake profile to contact his victim (usually male) by chat and pretends to be interested in starting a relationship;
- After gaining the victim’s trust and becoming intimate with them, the scammer asks them to undress in front of the webcam or exchange compromising photos;
- if the victims act accordingly, they are then blackmailed and threatened with the release of sexual text messages (sexts), private photos or videos unless they agree to pay a large sum of money.
What should you do?
- Avoid “friending” people you don’t know and be suspicious of contact requests from strangers.
- Verify the profile photo of the person who has contacted you (use the “Images” section of the major search engines).
- Chatting with people you don’t know increases the risks, since any content sent online can be made public and disclosed to anyone: friends, relatives, acquaintances, strangers.
How does it work by email?
Porn blackmailers usually send an email to inform the recipient that his computer has been hacked. The scammer then threatens to publish videos/compromising photos if the victim does not pay a sum of money as requested. The threat is made more credible:
What should you do?
- Delete the email and ignore any other similar message: it is an extortion attempt that seeks to create a “panic” effect and take advantage from it.
- Do not respond to the email: that would only confirm the existence of your email address.
- if the email you have received refers to a password you're still using, then your account isn’t safe because someone knows your password. Change the password and activate two-factor authentication.
- Navigate safely and always keep your security software updated.
- Stay informed about new threats: crimes such as sextortion are a problem for everyone. Share information about this type of scam.