As with any new technology that comes along, there are always going to be those out there who will attempt to use it for illicit financial gain. In this case sexual gratification and unfortunately also the exploitation of others. Sextortion according to Wikipedia “refers to the broad category of sexual exploitation in which abuse of power is the means of coercion, as well as to the category of sexual exploitation in which threatened release of sexual images or information is the means of coercion”.
Simply put, it is a method of extortion by which the perpetrator encourages a victim to create and send either an explicate video or image to them. On receipt of the image the perpetrator then attempts to black mail the victim to send a quantity of money or further images, if they do not wish to have the content, which they forwarded released and posted all over the internet, and often posted on the pages of people on their own friends list.
This is a pretty horrific form of extortion and one that for the most part goes mostly unreported. Victims can be male or female, adult or a child. The perpetrator will attempt to obtain the images in various ways such as through hacking or the image may have been shared consensually through sexting. In the case of adults, the perpetrator will seek to extort money. In the case of children, they will see the further extortion of the child through an ever increasing level of more abusive image. They may also force the child in to a contact offence meeting where the child is sexually abused. There also have been instances where old devices sold on that have not been cleared of all data which contained compromising images left the previous owner vulnerable to this type of crime.
This type of crime is very prevalent at the moment. Due to a lack reporting to parents or the Police, this permits the perpetrators continue and it has been reported that they can go through a person’s entire social network looking for further victims. For adults the current fee not to have images released online appears to be in the region of €500 upwards. Non-payment will result in the release of the images. Payment can also result in the release of the images. For children exposed to this, the impact can destroy them for the rest of their lives.
Some Advice for Parents
- From an adult’s perspective the first thing to accept is that no matter if you pay or do not pay you must prepare for the reality that the content forwarded will be released online.
- Do not pay the money, payment will not guarantee the content not being posted
- It is incredibly important to report this to the Gardai, if it goes unreported the scale of extortion will never be realised
- It is incredibly important to leave others in your contact list know that an attempt has been made or has happened as quite often there may be others in your social network who are also being extorted
- Screen capture all communication
- Cease all communication and block the profile
- Again Parental guidance for children is essential. The have to feel that no matter what mistake that they have made online it will be ok to tell you or another trusted adult.
- Parents should always advise NEVER take clothes off or perform an intimate act in front of a webcam or store such images on a computer or smartphone
- By taking an image of themselves and sharing it with another they can give ownership of their body to that person who may feel that they can then command the child to do as they please
- Parents should ensure up-to-date internet security software is loaded and switched on, to avoid the possibility of someone remotely controlling your webcam
- It is important that children NEVER respond to blackmail or extortion threats
- If a compromising photo or video does appear on a website or social media site, report the images and ask for it to be removed and request that the profile of the person who posted the image be blocked.
- Always remember that no matter how difficult it may seem, don’t be embarrassed, ashamed or afraid to report sextortion when it occurs, if you don’t, it will continue and many others, possibly in the victim’s social network, may become victims too
- Our You Tube Channel has more advice on this Topic