Would you ever share a nude with a digital stranger? Sextortion is more common than you think and if you’re dating online – you’re vulnerable to it.
Back in 2010 we investigated our first case of “sextortion”. But this type of romance scam has been around much longer than that.
Sextortion is a form of sexual exploitation when an individual threatens to release a compromising image or video of the victim unless some form of payment is sent.
Typical examples of ‘sextortion’ when it comes to online dating are as follows:
- Scammers will target the dating sites of high net worth users such as sugardaddy websites, elite singles sites etc. The scammer will groom their target for some time in order to learn as much as possible about the business activities of the target such as their employers, employees and clients. The conversation will start to heat up and the scammer will request a full length image or video from their target. Once they have obtained a compromising footage/video etc they will threaten to release the footage/video into the workplace unless payment is made.
- A scammer will target someone who appears to be vulnerable – usually someone who is young (underage). The scammer will groom their target for some time in order to learn as much as possible about their family. They will then threaten to hurt the targets loved ones unless a naked picture/video of the target is sent to them. The threats will continue in order to obtain as much footage as possible.
- Two individuals will start interacting online. Once the conversation starts to heat up, the scammer will request a compromising picture or video of the other person. The scammer may send a stolen image of a porn star in exchange, or may even use stolen recorded footage from a web cam star. Once the images of the victim have been obtained they then threaten to release them unless money is sent to them.
- Scammers will target the dating sites of infidelity sites users such as Ashleymadison.com. The scammer will groom their target for some time in order to learn as much as possible about the married and family life of their target. The conversation will start to heat up and the scammer will request a full length image or video from their target. Once they have obtained a compromising footage/video etc they will threaten to release the footage/video to their loved one unless payment is made.
Be on alert if:
- Your online Date wants to take you off the dating site and onto Skype. Scammers will encourage their victims to have cybersex which they will record and later blackmail their victims with.
- Your online Date does not want to meet in person. Rather, they make excuses why they can’t meet in person but ask you personal questions which can lead to clear identification of your full name, address, loved ones employment etc.
- Your online Date starts the hot and heavy chat immediately and sends supposed intimate pictures of themselves immediately and asks for images in return.
- Your online Date requests full length compromising footage/images of yourself
How can you protect yourself?
- Never send any images/footage online that you wouldn’t be comfortable your Grandmother seeing.
- If you find yourself a victim of sextortion, report the profile to the sites’ administrators, block the Scammer and delete them from your friends list. Deactivate your own account and contact ID Care at https://www.idcare.org/. It is likely you will need to be on the front foot about this and we encourage you be open with your family and workplace and warn them of the situation you have found yourself in case the images are forwarded to them.