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The increasing rate of criminal activities on social media platforms isn’t alarming when the internet provides potential criminals with a tool of anonymity. One such crime plaguing Facebook for some time now is sextortion. This scam, which causes immense trauma, scams users on the platform by blackmailing and extorting them. It is a growing threat, and it has become a necessity for people to take precautions to protect their online safety. In this blog, we will discuss what a Facebook Sextortion Scam is, the modus operandi of these criminals, and what users can do to protect themselves.
To best protect yourself from a Facebook sextortion scam, it would be helpful to know what techniques these cybercriminals use so that you can steer clear if you are ever approached by one. Here are standard techniques sextortionist use to lure victims into their traps.
Most people fall into a sextortion trap by accepting friend requests from strangers. It’s common for most Facebook users to accept friend requests without background research; typically, they solemnly look at the person’s profile and photos to decide if they want them as a friend. They will accept without hesitation if there is an attraction or interest, precisely what a sextortionist’s profile aims to do.
These criminals create attractive profiles that aim to bring attention. They will upload stolen photos of enticing men or women and post uplifting, funny, and intriguing statuses. The aim is to make their account seem inviting to increase their chances of luring potential victims.
Once sextortionists believe their Facebook profile seems natural and alluring enough, they will begin scouting for victims and add as many accounts as possible or reach out through messages to public accounts. You can compare this tactic to a fisherman casting his bait. They want to throw as much bait into the waters to see how many bites they can get. Once a victim responds, it is game on.
On top of the technique of a façade, online sextortion involves extreme manipulation both sexually and emotionally. Once they have an opening, these criminals will ask personal questions that show interest in their target. This technique gets their victims to lower their guard and believes they have someone who has a genuine interest and attraction.
These criminals will also share parts of themselves; however, they are all made up and aim to reflect the same interests as their victims to create a connection.
Once there is comfortability in conversation (this can last for days or weeks), the sextortionist will become more forward with their flirtation and make sexual advances towards the victim. They will bring up the idea of exchanging sexual images or videos. It’s common for some victims to shy away from this, so sextortionists will send sexual content (stolen from adult websites) first to get their victim comfortable with the idea and cause temptation.
The second the victim reciprocates and sends nude images or videos is when the sextortionist screenshots their content and threatens to expose them online to their Facebook friends if the victim does not meet their demands for money.
They will begin bombarding their victim using scare tactics to pressure them into paying, claiming they will ruin their lives and reputations by exposing them to their community. To avoid any harm and out of fear, victims pay the ransom. Unfortunately, the victims that pay continue the cycle of abuse. Sextortionists will claim to delete their victim’s content and disappear if paid off.
However, this is just a tactic to get their victims to pay up and has no truth. Paying a sextortionist is never a good idea and only solidifies their threats. If these criminals know they can scare their victims enough to do what they want, they will always come back with more demands.
Social media sextortion can happen fast, and many victims have no idea how these scams work; therefore, the chances of falling for this scam are high. Here are some steps to protect yourself from a Facebook sextortion scam.
The first step in protecting yourself from sextortion scams is setting up your privacy settings on Facebook. Start by going to your privacy settings in the settings tab on Facebook, and ensure that your profile, timeline, and posts are private. You should also turn off location services and limit the information you share publicly on your profile. It can make it harder for scammers to obtain personal information about you, and thus, they won’t blackmail you with it.
Sextortion scams frequently involve fake profiles to access your personal information. Be very cautious of friend requests from people you do not know, especially those who claim to be from overseas or of someone with very few friends on the platform. Accepting their friend request gives them access to your personal information, including photos and posts.
It may seem obvious, but it’s crucial not to take or share explicit photos or videos with anyone, even if they seem trustworthy. You never know when they can use this information against you and blackmail you.
Scammers typically use emotional manipulation tactics to coerce victims into complying with their demands. If you receive suspicious messages from an anonymous user, it’s crucial not to engage with them. Please do not reply to their messages or send any money. Some scammers may threaten to hurt you or your loved ones if you don’t pay up. Don’t let them manipulate you into making a quick decision under duress.
If you receive a suspicious message on Facebook, report it to Facebook immediately. It will help prevent other users from falling for the same scam and can aid Facebook in taking appropriate action to remove the scammers’ accounts or report them to the authorities.
Facebook sextortion scams are frightening and can cause significant damage if not dealt with properly. By taking simple steps such as setting up your privacy settings, not sharing explicit photos, and being cautious of friend requests, you can significantly reduce your chances of being a victim of a Facebook sextortion scam. Remember to engage in good online practice and monitor suspicious accounts and activities, and report Facebook sextortion if it happens to you. Stay safe online, and don’t let scammers take advantage of you.
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