Sextortion is a cyber-enabled crime during which victims are lured into performing sexual acts in front of a webcam. Unbeknown to victims, their actions are recorded by criminals who then use the video footage in an attempt to blackmail individuals.
Sextortion is a form of blackmail where a perpetrator threatens to reveal intimate images of the victim online unless you give in to their demands. These demands are typically for money or further intimate images, and blackmailers can ask for anything from £200 to thousands of pounds.
Perpetrators commonly target their victims through dating apps, social media or webcams. Webcam blackmail usually involves people being lured into taking off some or all of their clothes in front of their webcam, only to be told that you have been recorded and that the video will be posted online and/or shown to the victim's contacts unless a fee is paid - usually a substantial sum of money.
Online safety advice
- Do not share intimate videos online.
- Do not get lured into compromising situations such as removing clothes or performing intimate acts online.
- Always remember that what goes online may well stay online.
- Be wary about who you invite or accept invitations from on social networking sites. Do not accept friendship requests from complete strangers.
- Update the privacy settings on your social networking accounts so only people you know can view your account.
- Do not include any sensitive, private or confidential information in profiles.
- If you use online dating sites, set up a separate email account that does not use your real name. This is very simple and quick to do using providers such as Hotmail, Yahoo!Mail or Gmail.
- Quickly block nuisance and fraudulent users from further contact with you and also report them for abuse.
- If you become a victim of this type of scam, do not respond to the blackmailer's demands, but report the issue to the police and the relevant social networking site.
- If you think that you have been persuaded by anyone to part with payment details, contact your bank or card issuer immediately.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland's online campaign aims to raise awareness around online image-based blackmail.
#StopSextortionNI aims to raise awareness of what sextortion is and the dangers associated with interacting with someone you don't know online.
Sextortion can have a devastating effect of the victim. This dramatisation film is based on real scenarios and shows how easy it is to be duped by online scammers.
Our self-help guide below includes more useful advice and info.