Sextortion, also known as webcam blackmail, is when intimate images and videos are recorded and used for financial exploitation and coercion. It is a very common crime that we see a lot on the helpline. If you are reading this, it is likely that this may have happened to you or someone you know. Our advice page on what to do if you have been a victim of Sextortion can be accessed on our website here. We understand this can be hugely distressing. We hope this article can explain a little more about why you should stop all contact with the blackmailer, block their account and report them to the platform.
Facts about Sextortion
- Perpetrators of Sextortion usually operate are part of overseas organised crime groups.
- They often target many people at once.
- The crime happens over a short time period.
- Their main aim is to extort as much money as possible or coerce the victim into doing something they do not want to do.
- The threatening messages can include extreme language and usually some kind of time limit. This is designed to evoke panic and make people pay straight away.
I have your nude video and screenshots of all your followers. If you cooperate with me, I will not expose you. You have 24 hours to send £200. Let’s sort this out on my terms. If you block me, I will ruin your life.
At this point, you have two options:
1) Pay the money and hope they delete the content and leave you alone.
2) Ignore the message, block their account and report what has happened.
Unfortunately, if you decide on option 1, the issue is unlikely to improve. The perpetrators want to engage with you so they can continue to make threats and exert pressure. Keeping these channels of communication open means they are less likely to move on. By deciding on option 2, the scammers know you will not give in to their threats and by blocking the account they cannot contact you anymore and they will most likely leave you alone.
Five reasons why you need to block the blackmailer
- The amount you send will not be enough. By paying this money, the perpetrators know you are open to blackmail and they will ask for more. If you have paid money, do not panic. It is not too late to stop all contact and block their account.
- It is highly unlikely you will be able to negotiate with them or appeal to any sense of morality.
- It is not in their interest to share the content, they just want to create enough panic to make you meet their financial demands.
- The threats are very real, but the content is rarely released. Our data shows that only 1% of people we supported have had their content shared.
- Perpetrators target many people at once. You are not the only person they are threatening and when ignored, they will move on to the next person.
Once you have blocked them, it is important to stay vigilant. It may be that a different phone number or account tries to contact you in the future. This could be a few hours or even a few days later. The advice remains the same: Do not respond, block the account and report the user. We encourage raising your privacy settings across all your social media accounts and you can find more information about how to do this here.
Although we know it is highly unlikely the perpetrators will share this content, we can never make any guarantees about this. If anything is shared online, we are here to help. We can report private sexual content for removal if it is shared publicly online. This includes adult websites or public posts on social media. We cannot remove content sent over private messages. However, we can escalate reports to Facebook or Instagram for accounts that may be sharing content in this way. Find out how to get in touch here. We understand how distressing this can be and it is important to reach out for more emotional support if you feel you need it. You can access further emotional support services on our website here.