The dangers of the internet are many but there is one that can destroy you. Sextortion is a common trend on dating sites. Sextortion makes many victims. There is indeed an upsurge of this form of blackmail on online platforms and it is sometimes difficult to spot it at first sight. What exactly is sextortion? According to the definition of wikipedia, the word "sextortion" is a suitcase word including "sex" and "extortion". It consists in obtaining sexual favors via the Internet following a blackmail on the webcam. Let's decipher together what sextortion is.
Sextortion is a form of cybercrime
Cybercriminals pollute our web and there are different forms of extortion. Often, extortionists stalk you on social networks and dating apps. This technique consists in targeting a victim, maintaining a pseudo link with him/her and then succeeding in convincing him/her to act for them by extorting money or sexual favors. They hide behind false profiles. Some even manage to use a technology called hypertrucage which consists of placing the face of one person on the body of another. It is difficult to identify them. This scam affects both teenagers and adults. This makes everyone an easy and vulnerable target for the criminal.
How exactly does the cybercriminal proceed?
First of all, he will maintain an easy, caring communication with you. The extortionist will show you that he has good intentions. Behind this, there may even be love bombing, which consists of giving lots of positive attention (gifts, sweet words etc.) to attract the victim into his spider's web. Once this apparent trust is established, he will gradually force his victim to give him erotic or pornographic photos or films.
Strangely enough, people continue to trust the cybercriminal thinking that this is an obligatory stage in the relationship on the dating site. Intimacy is also part of getting to know each other.
While some couples on dating sites may indeed communicate in this way to develop their sexuality or to maintain a little secret garden, the intention of the extortionist is completely different. Indeed, after a while, the cybercriminal will blackmail his victim.
Blackmail: sex and money
The very principle of sextortion is that once the cybercriminal has obtained sexual photos or movies of his victim, he will blackmail him. He threatens the person to spread these compromising visual supports on the networks if he does not give money. The victim must agree to the extortionist's demands if she does not want her life to be turned upside down because of these biased media. Women are the most affected by sextortion. LGBT people who wish to keep their sexual orientation secret are also recurring victims.
The problem has increased dramatically with new technologies. The important use of smartphones and their massification has brought with it these major problems of cyber stalking and cyber crime. The Internet, the easily accessible cameras lead us to compromising identity drifts. We easily post selfies, pictures of our life. We attract the gaze of others and unfortunately that of perverts and extortionists in search of a victim.
Humiliation and intimidation will then follow in the continuity of the blackmail. It may happen that some extortionists end up attacking the victim's relatives: brother, sister. The victim will have no choice but to accept the demands again and again. The cyber stalker will negotiate even more money until the victim is terrorized. The extortionist will even make it seem as if they are surrounded by others who will threaten them even more and do them more harm. If the victim complies, the extortionist will ask for more money.
Another manipulation is on the rise. You've probably received an e-mail from a ghost brigade that tells you that they have compromising photos of you. This cyber-malware raises the issue that our webcam is hacked and that we have been filmed looking at pornographic or child pornography sites. Scammers can ask for lots and lots of money.
Figures around sextortion
To give you an idea of the scale of Internet sextortion, here are some interesting and startling statistics.
According to Statistics Canada, the number of extortion cases reported to police in Canada has jumped by almost 300% in almost a decade. Much of this increase was seen during the pandemic. The number of incidents of non-consensual distribution of intimate images increased by almost 9% in 2021 compared to the previous year. This is a 52% increase over the previous five-year average.
According to Cybertip.ca, Canada's national tipline for reporting online child sexual exploitation, there are alarming figures on the growth of this cybercrime, which particularly affects teenagers.
In 2022, there was a 56% increase in reports of sextortion against teenagers.
168 reports of sextortion per month.
Typically, boys are extorted for money and girls for other sexual images.
87% of extortion reports involve boys.
Sextortionists are mostly from international networks.
77% of sextortions occur on snapchat and instagram networks.
The first contacts between the victim and the stalker start on instagram and continue on snapchat.
How to react to sextortion?
What to do when you are trapped like this, sextorquer?
- You should immediately stop all communication with this person. However, you should keep screenshots of your past communications.
- Do not give in to their threats: never send them money or nude images.
- Ask for help and report them. Contact immediately the police.
Be extremely vigilant as adults and also watch out for your teenagers who are the most vulnerable right now. Fear and shame will be the first brakes to communicate this manipulation to their loved ones. It is therefore important to prevent, inform and accompany our youth against these risks.
We must absolutely protect them from all this blackmail and make them as secure as possible so that the main objective of being on a dating site to find love or to communicate with a positive relationship is not diverted, scorned by heartless perverts.