What to do if you've been victim to online webcam blackmail, also known as sextortion
What is sextortion?
Sextortion, also known as ‘webcam blackmail’, is when intimate images and videos are recorded and used for financial exploitation and coercion.
How does it happen?
The majority of cases involve individuals meeting via social media or 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 into sending intimate images or videos or will record sexual content without the victim’s knowledge or consent. The images and videos will then be used to blackmail them for money or further sexual content. Sextortion can be committed by an individual or by organised criminal gangs overseas.
What to do if you're being blackmailed:
How do I know that it's Sextortion?
Sextortion is a common crime and the scammers use similar tactics to try and apply as much pressure on you as possible to make you pay them the money, these might include:
- Threats to share recorded footage on Facebook, Youtube etc.
- Blackmailing you for money to be sent via an online banking transaction, the receiver could be based overseas, for example in the Philippines.
- They have obtained screenshots of your friend's list from social media.
- Allegations that you have been speaking to a minor.
You can find more advice and information about this crime from the National Crime Agency here.
It is against the law in the UK for someone to threaten to share, and share, an intimate image or video without consent. You can report this to the police by calling the non-emergency number 101. If the perpetrator of the crime is overseas there may be limited things the police can do however reporting this will add to the national intelligence of these types of crime.
If you can, try to collect as much evidence as possible, this would include screenshots of the messages where the blackmail threats were made, bank details they shared with you and any other relevant communication.
Stop, block and report.
We would encourage you to block, stop all communication and report them to the platform where the threats are being made here.
Do not pay any money or meet demands they may request. They want to engage with you so they can threaten you and exert pressure. 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.
If you have already paid money to the blackmailers, do not send any more. You could try to contact your bank or the platform used to send the money for more advice.
In our experience in dealing with these types of crimes, we find that the perpetrators will quickly lose interest and move onto their next victim when they realise no money will be paid and they have no way of contacting you with more threats.
StopNCII.org is a platform designed to support victims of Non-Consensual Intimate Image (NCII) abuse and works to digitally hash private sexual content and prevent this from being shared across the platforms of participating industry partners.
This is an extension of the previous 'Facebook NCII pilot' and any images previously hashed through the pilot will continue to be protected and will be included in the StopNCII.org hash bank.
To be eligible to hash your content through StopNCII.org, you must:
• Be the person in the images/videos
• Be over the age of 18 in the content
• Have copies of the images/videos you wish to hash stored on your device
• The content is nude, semi-nude or engaging in a sexual act in the imagery.
Privacy and security:
Now you have blocked all access from the blackmailer contacting you, it's now best to review and raise your privacy settings across all of your social media accounts and stay vigilant to new or suspicious friend requests. Find more privacy advice here.
Some victims of Sextortion find it reassuring to create Google Alerts. You can set these up with tags for your name so if anything is posted online in your name you will be alerted via an email, here's how you can do this.
Look after yourself:
We understand how distressing this can be: make sure you reach out for support to help you cope with what has happened. You can find more support services and organisations that might be able to give more help here.
Get in touch with the Helpline.
If you have read this information and you would like to be referred to the Facebook Pilot or if you still have questions, please get in touch. We may refer you to read this advice page, so please mention that you've already accessed this advice.
We will need to know where they are threatening to share your intimate images and videos and we will do our best to provide you with some more specific advice.