Facts & Comment

How to defend against sextortion: A looming threat to online security

Sextortion scam online India

Read how extortionists are using sextortion schemes to lure unsuspected victims in compromising situations that spread to social networks and endanger one’s reputation.

During a visit to a matrimonial website, a 27-year-old Hyderabad resident became friendly with a prospect and requested a video call.

After the call ended, the subject witnessed her undressing, and he threatened to send it to his friends and family on Facebook. His only option was to pay ₹5,000 to a UPI account.

After Karuturi walked into a nearby police station, they traced the number, which led to a jungle in Rajasthan, instead of being extorted. According to the policeman, the girl’s video was never live, but rather a recording that had been played out. The number itself was unregistered.

The policeman advised him to keep all his social media accounts locked and sent him to the city’s cyber crime cell. There, Karuturi was shocked to see at least 10-15 young men who were cheated in the same modus operandi, most of whom had also paid exorbitant amounts to the blackmailers, who only came back for more money.

Many people now spend a considerable amount of time online, making sextortion more common. Blackmailers use several innovative methods to entice their victims.

A common method is to call the victim and claim to have tracked their online activity, specifically their visits to pornographic websites. They also claim to have evidence from webcams or obscene videos.

Sextortion: what is it?

By threatening to release sexually explicit images or videos of victims, sextortion is a form of blackmail.

The act of sextortion involves blackmailing someone by threatening to expose sexually explicit images, videos, or personal information. In order to prevent the release of sexual content, the perpetrator usually demands money or further sexual acts from the victim. Furthermore, they may threaten to share explicit material with their family, friends, or colleagues or post it on pornographic websites.

The real bait is fear

In addition to using explicit images or screenshots from explicit conversations to intimidate the victim, sextorters are skilled at creating fear in their victims. In addition, they may search the victim’s social media accounts for information on their family and friends. Though the threat may not be genuine, the goal is to convince the victim that their reputation could be destroyed at any moment.

Even if they don’t have explicit videos or images of their victims, sextorters often use fear to manipulate them. However, in some cases, sextorters may obtain explicit content from their victims.

Sexting is one method of gaining the trust of victims by engaging them in sexually explicit conversations and persuading them to send explicit images or videos.

The perpetrator can also trick the victim into downloading malware by taking control of their webcam without their knowledge.

It is not uncommon for perpetrators to use threats to coerce the victim into performing sexual acts in front of the perpetrator’s webcam or video call after initial blackmail attempts.

These common sextortion schemes should be avoided

You can protect yourself from sextortion by recognising these tricks and characteristics that sextorters use to coerce their victims into complying with their demands.

Fishing for cats

Another form of online attack, catfishing, initiates most sextortion cases. This type of scam involves an offender impersonating someone else, typically a beautiful young woman, a wealthy businessman, or someone with similar interests to the victim, in order to appear relatable to the victim. Sextorters who specialize in catfishing create fake social media profiles based on stolen photographs and well-crafted profile descriptions.

After creating fake profiles, the perpetrator usually approaches several users on various social media and dating platforms by sending friend requests, liking their profiles, or dropping them a message. Sextorters engage victims in conversation to build trust and obtain personal information after they respond. In the final step, the offender coerces the victim into sending sexually explicit images for sextortion.

Video call via WhatsApp

A new form of sextortion, through fake WhatsApp video calls, is on the rise in India. Victims receive a call from an unidentified number, with a woman appearing to try seducing them into sexual behavior. Subsequently, the scammer will contact them again claiming a nude video of the victim is posted on YouTube and demands money for its removal. This malicious practice has become increasingly common in India, taking advantage of people’s fears and lack of awareness about such scams.

Sextortion on Facebook

A common catfishing scam on Facebook is sextortion, which involves sending strangers friend requests or direct messages in order to get their trust and then requesting sexually explicit material from the victim. Once the victim has shared such material, the perpetrator will use it as leverage to extort money or further explicit material from the victim.

Email sextortion campaigns

They might claim they saw the person do private things on their computer camera and threaten to show others if they don’t pay. Sextorters may send scary emails to many people, hoping to trick them. In addition, these emails could threaten to inform everyone about the person’s visit to adult websites.

Someone you know or your ex is sextorting you

Strangers typically use sextortion to scam people, but someone you know can also use it. For example, an ex-partner who has sexual pictures or videos of you could threaten to share them if you don’t comply.

In most cases, blackmail like this occurs after a relationship ends, and it’s called revenge porn. But also, sextortionists may use these images to extort their partners for more sexual images or acts.

Sextortion prevention

Due to the severe impact and distress sextortion causes, preventing it is crucial. You can avoid becoming a victim of sextortion by following these tips.

  • You should share as little personal information as possible.
  • On Facebook, you can conceal specific profile details and your friend list. With Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms, you can review and adjust your privacy preferences.
  • If you create a profile on a dating site, consider using a nickname. This can make it harder for people who are engaged in sextortion to locate your personal information.
  • Never accept friends or follow requests from individuals you do not know.
  • You should exercise caution when dealing with links and file downloads sent by unknown individuals, as well as unexpected attachments, even from people you know.
  • Cover your webcam when not in use.
  • You can take action against criminals much more easily if you file a complaint as soon as possible.

If you have been sextorted, what should you do?

Contact a friend or family member

You may feel ashamed of your current situation, but it is important to confide in someone you trust. When it comes to finding solutions, two heads are generally better than one, and talking about your problems can help you feel more composed and clear-headed, allowing you to make better decisions.

Keep all communication with the offender to a minimum

Leaving unanswered sextortion messages may cause you to panic. Your mind may race with anxious thoughts, such as, ‘Will they contact my family?’ or ‘Can I still contact my friends?’.

The answer should always be no. You have the right to be freed from this abuse. You should ask yourself if you will endure this situation forever. If you continue communicating with your abuser, you will stay under his manipulative control. After cutting off all contact, you can begin seeking justice.

Keep the evidence instead of deleting it

Establishing the extent, duration, and timeline of the exploitation requires evidence. In spite of your urge to erase all evidence of the incident from your computer to avoid humiliation, it is essential that you resist that urge and keep everything. If you begin legal proceedings, you will no longer be burdened with shame.

Police should be notified

To ensure prompt legal action, notify the police at the outset of any incident.

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Disclaimer: The article is initially published by Business Insider.

CEO & Editor
I'm Ved Prakash, Founder & Editor @Newsblare Media, specialised in Business and Finance niches who writes content for reputed publication such as,, Motley Fool Singapore, etc. I'm the contributor of different... news sites that have widened my views on the current happenings in the world.

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