Sextortion, also known as ‘webcam blackmail’, involves individuals meeting via social media or on dating websites and forming a relationship through conversation. The blackmailer often assumes the identity of a stereotypically attractive man or woman who, after gaining the victim's trust, will quickly persuade them to send intimate images or videos of sexual acts via webcam.
The sexual content or information is recorded unbeknownst to the victim and then used to blackmail them for money, sexual favours or further sexual content. Sextortion can be committed by an individual or by international and organised criminal gangs.
What to do?
If you are the victim of sextortion, we recommend you follow the following steps:
1. Tell someone you trust
You have done nothing wrong. Talking to an organisation such as the Revenge Porn Helpline can help to provide you with more advice and support. Phone on 0345 6000 459 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Do not give them any time or money and do not negotiate
They want to engage with you so they can threaten you and exert pressure. Take screenshots as evidence. Block and do not respond to them. The amount they ask for is designed to be just enough to encourage you to pay. It will not be enough and they will come back and demand more money.
3. Collect evidence and stop all contact
We encourage victims to keep all messages as evidence. Victims should also report and block the perpetrators social media profile to the platform that they've been threatened on as the blackmailing behaviour will most likely be breaking the platforms community standards.
4. Tell the police
This type of crime is increasing, which is why the UK National Crime Agency (NCA) wants you to report it. The NCA need to build intelligence about this type of crime. While demands are for relatively small amounts (£200 - £1600) the scale and frequency of offending is likely to make this a multi-million dollar global industry. NCA investigations reveal victimisation across the world. You can find out more from the NCA regarding sextortion (webcam blackmail), including what to do if you're a victim, on their website.
5. Do not let any feelings of shame prevent you from getting help
Five cases of online blackmail have been linked, by UK police forces, to suicide. Therefore, it is important to reach out for help. You have not done anything wrong. You are not alone in experiencing this. The NCA report that they have dealt with over 1500 cases of sextortion, and victims’ occupations have included police officers, firemen, military (officers and NCOs), heads of local authorities, sports personalities, teachers, youth coaches and celebrities.
Find out how to report sextortion to commonly used social networking sites below: