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Sextortion is a term used to describe a blackmail scam where someone threatens to release sexually explicit images or videos of you unless you pay them money. This type of cybercrime is taken place on popular social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and even places where you least expect it like dating apps, gaming sites, and more. If you want to avoid becoming a victim or if you unfortunately already are, read on to find out how to stop sextortion with 5 essential tips from experts.
In short, yes online sextortion is a very serious crime and whoever acts on it can face serious charges on top of hefty fines. You can be charged with several different crimes if you commit the act of sextortion, including:
· Online Blackmail
· Child pornography (if the crime involves a minor)
Per the National Conference of State Legislatures, “Most state legislatures began enacting legislation prohibiting the nonconsensual dissemination of intimate images in 2013. Forty-six states and Washington, D.C., now have laws. The laws vary considerably from state to state (e.g., some provide for misdemeanor offenses, some felonies; some are part of cyber harassment or voyeurism codes; others are standalone provisions).”
If you are a victim of sextortion, it’s imperative to let someone know as soon as it happens. These criminals gain and maintain power over their victims by isolating them from their families and friends. 1 in 3 victims stay silent often because of shame and embarrassment, and even self-blame which only causes the sextortionist to feed into these feelings and gain more control.
Confide in a family member, close friend, or anyone you can trust. Having people behind you who support you will give you the courage and support you need to take action and fight back. The majority of victims are also too frightened to report the crime to authorities. Per Thorn, only %17 of victims report sextortion to law enforcement. This is mainly because they think they are at fault and have committed a crime themselves. Victims must understand that they are just that a victim. These criminals are the ones who are committing a crime and will face consequences for it.
Here are 5 important tips, we recommend victims implement to help stop sextortion.
Step One: Gather Evidence
If possible, save all communications related to the sextortion attempt. This includes any emails, social media messages, text messages, etc. Having this information will be helpful for authorities.
Step Two: Change Your Passwords
Once you have saved any evidence, change your passwords for all social media sites and other sites that were involved in the sextortion attempt. This will help prevent the person from continuing to harass you online.
Step Three: Report the Person Who Is Harassing You
Report the person who is harassing you on every app they are using to harass you. If they are attempting to contact you through your phone, block their number.
Step Four: Contact Authorities
Take all of the evidence you have documented and report it to your local police department. Even if the precinct isn’t well equipped to handle cyber cases, it’s still critical to file a report. Police can help with which steps to take and can alert and assist the FBI in an investigation.
Step Five: Seek Help from A Counselor or Support Group
Sextortion can be a very traumatic experience. Consider seeking help from a counselor or joining a support group for online harassment survivors. Talking about what happened can help you process these events and begin to heal.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for dealing with sextortion, but there are steps you can take to regain control and stop the cycle of exploitation. If you are facing sextortion, remember that you are not alone—help is available. You can also make a report to us here at Digital Forensics. We specialize in sextortion and can be an addition to your support team so you can put an end to this. Report Sextortion To Our Sextortion Helpline
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