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3 Blackmail Cases: Examples To Learn From

3 Blackmail Cases: Examples To Learn From

Blackmail has roots as far back as 16th century England as a practice of safety in exchange for money. The idea of holding a ransom at a price has moved on to the digital age, where average and high-profile citizens alike are being targeted. The internet provides a sandbox of possibilities where anyone can go and explore.

While most countries offer protection to their citizens against threats in person and online, there are gray areas. It’s often not possible for a country to take legal action against another country’s citizens. Scammers in some countries can use the online world for malicious practices without any fear of consequence.

One of the rising issues in the online world is digital blackmail. Scammers create fake profiles, target the vulnerable, and use any photos, videos, or texts as a bargaining tool. They aim to extort money from their victim in exchange for not releasing the material they received under false pretexts. 

Let’s take a look at a few examples of blackmail cases and their severity.

Extortion of a CEO

In 2022, AMC CEO Adam Aron was the victim of attempted blackmail. The blackmail attempt was carried out by a woman Adam didn’t know, who was pretending to be someone Adam once held a romantic relationship with. She accumulated content that she threatened to release to the AMC board.

The extortionist requested $300,000 to keep her from exposing the CEO. Adam contacted law enforcement and sought legal counsel. With the help of law enforcement and lawyers, Adam was able to unveil his extortionist and take legal action against her. He was able to avoid the exposure of the threat and attain justice on his behalf.

There are some important aspects we can take away from this particular situation. Adam was able to successfully take control of the situation by reaching out for help. 

This is a prime example of how extortionists rarely act on their threat. If she had, she wouldn’t have gotten the money that caused her to target Adam and would have made herself a target to law enforcement.

A Freshman Targeted by a Sextrotionist

In 2014, Taylor was a freshman in high school, only 15 years old, when she was targeted. She received a Facebook message out of the blue from someone she didn’t know. 

The conversation turned sexual immediately, with her extortionist asking if she’d ever shared sexual images. In fact, Taylor had recently sent a message via Snapchat to her boyfriend, and with this message, she was concerned that the picture had gotten out. Her extortionist didn’t have this photo but pretended like he did to get more from her.

With threats of exposing her to friends and family, her extortionist demanded more. Taylor kept this secret until she confided in a friend, speaking up in her Junior year.

Unfortunately, Taylor’s extortionist, who increased the demand and type of content, began to create fake profiles under her name. The sextortionist then added family, friends, and faculty from her school and released the compromising content on the profile made under her name.

While Taylor became a victim of someone who made good on the threats, she did seek help. Her local law enforcement had a deputy who specialized in internet crime, and they were able to locate the criminal who had accumulated at least 375 victims and received 75 years in federal prison once he was caught.

Children can be some of the most vulnerable victims. They can experience a lot of major life changes and put their trust in the wrong person. While they likely can’t offer anything of monetary value, they can become a repeat source for extortion.

Sextortion Leads to a Teen’s Suicide

In 2022, Jordan Demay took his own life at only 17 years old. What led to Jordan taking his own life is an unfortunate series of catfishing and sextortion. 

Jordan believed he was talking to a girl his age on Instagram. In reality, the imposters were two men from Nigeria. He provided sexual content to the Instagram account, and once the images were sent, demands for money began.

Jordan was only a teenager and had no money to provide to his extortionists. Their demands were unmet, so they suggested that Jordan take his own life. The sextortionists had threatened to expose Jordan to his family and friends. Jordan couldn’t seek help, and it’s possible he didn’t believe there was anything he could do. 

This extremely unfortunate story is another reason why sextortionists can be dangerous. They target vulnerable adults and children for money and power. Victims can feel powerless, not knowing that they have options.

What Can I Do if I’m a Victim of Blackmail?

One of the first things you can do is reach out to your local law enforcement and ask for someone who specializes in internet crimes. The FBI can assist in financially motivated blackmail with their vast access to resources that local law enforcement may not have. In cases involving children, the NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) can be a great resource.

Even if your sensitive information has been shared, you have options. It’s important to document the situation as thoroughly as possible with screenshots and written accounts. Lock down your social media by adjusting privacy settings to make sure no public-facing information is shared. 

You’ll want to ensure anything you don’t want a stranger to know isn’t easily available. While you don’t have control over everything available online, at least not immediately, you can take these immediate steps on the platforms you do control. From there, you can seek further help to take back control of online blackmail.

Taking Control of a Blackmail Situation

Digital Forensics has the team and tools to expose sextortionists and prevent your sensitive data from being released. We use our proprietary tools and team of digital forensics engineers, social engineering experts, and lawyers trained in cyber law to identify blackmailers. We can help prevent the exposure of online blackmail victims.


Where did the word “blackmail” come from? |

AMC CEO identified as victim of an online blackmail attempt last year | CNBC

I was a victim of online sextortion in high school. Here’s what I want parents and kids to know | ABC

A teen’s death in a small Michigan town led the FBI and police to an online sexual extortion scheme | NBC News

Financially Motivated Sextortion | FBI

Resources and Support | NCMEC

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