Sextortion is extortion with a sexually explicit photo or video. This can be done, for example, by (threatening to) spread a nude photo or video of the victim, but also with mounted webcam images so that it appears that the victim is having sex with a (minor) person.
How did the blackmailer get the images? There are several options for this. You may have sent them yourself on a whim, if you expect the recipient to handle the images discreetly. But it is also possible that the images were stolen via social media or e-mails, for example by taking over webcams or stealing equipment.
What to do when you victim are into sextortion?
Of course we at Strongwood can help you! There are a number of steps you can take yourself if you are a victim of sextortion:
- Don't comment on the threats. If you do what is asked of you, they may further blackmail you. When you pay, for example, it is no guarantee that the blackmail will stop
- Collect evidence. This can help when you file a report. Take screenshots of messages you receive. Is there something unpleasant about you online? Take screenshots and make sure that the URL (the web address) is visible
- Remove and block the person on all channels; social media, telephone numbers, email addresses
- Check your privacy settings on all your accounts. Use this handy checklist for this: Helpwanted.nl manuals
- Find contact with the website where you found your images. There is often a possibility via a 'help', 'abuse' or 'contact' button to contact us. Tell your story, report that you have not given permission to show the images, have the images removed and if possible collect even more information about the person who posted the images
- Make a declaration or seek professional help.
strongwood is experienced in sextortion research
Since we live in an era where almost everyone is active online, everyone has multiple online accounts, works with social media, owns a mobile phone, it is a logical consequence that the internet is a playground for criminals. Yet they are not even always seasoned criminals engaged in sextortion. Online bastards Nico van den Dries mentions them in an interview with Metro News.
“It can really be anyone. You see many men who operate in groups, but also students and very average citizens, such as housewives who see this as a financial opportunity. ” He is also firm about the victims. “It can happen to anyone, but 'a little naive' most of them are,” he agrees. “But it can happen that you are having a nice chat with someone who wants to make video calls afterwards. One thing leads to another and before you know it you have mounted a deduction photo of yourself with a young child in it. And the kind request to pay, because otherwise it will be shared on your Facebook. Then panic sets in! ”
Over the years we have completed various types of sextortion research. It turned out that the perpetrator does not always come from the same country as the victim. Because Strongwood works with a worldwide network of specialists, solving such an investigation abroad is no problem at all.
Distinguish research in at home and abroad
First of all, with sextortion research, we always check whether the blackmailer operates from the Netherlands or from abroad. You can often see that in the language or the way money is requested; if 'Western Union' or a similar foreign payment term is requested, the blackmailer is often abroad. If variants such as Bol.com or Paysafe cards are requested, the blackmailer may be in the Netherlands.
What to do about foreign blackmailers
Keep in mind that these blackmailers will certainly not be at your door anytime soon. The options they have are limited and often they are not even familiar with Dutch culture. They are only after your money, will want to push your gut to persuade you to pay. We often see that in the case of foreign blackmailers, these are organized groups that deal with dozens of victims at the same time. Because they only want your money, they focus on those who do pay. In many cases the victims who do not pay are left alone.
To tackle these people and to prevent repetition, you also use the list 'what to do when you are a victim of sextortion?'.
What to do against Dutch blackmailers
When you are a victim of a Dutch blackmailer, it is important to collect good evidence. With this the perpetrator can be traced and the blackmail can be stopped. In addition, you also help other possible victims to prevent the blackmail.
Strongwood works in the Netherlands with Helpwanted.nl and with CWAT foundation.
Helpwanted.nl or CWAT foundation help too!
Helpwanted.nl is a website about transgressive behavior on the internet. You can contact them for advice if you are (or have had) dealing with online cross-border behaviour. The consequences can be drastic. Fortunately, there is often something you can do about it. They can help you. Are you, or someone in your environment, dealing with online transgressive behavior? Then contact them. They offer practical help and personal advice. You can chat, email and call them for free and anonymously.
Foundation cases Without A Trace (cWAT) also helps in sextortion research where others can no longer help and the 'blackmail' has to stop. The objective of this foundation is to solve cases for the victims and to have any perpetrators arrested and convicted with sufficient evidence, so that the victims can move on with their lives.
The highly experienced people who are associated with the Cases Without A Trace foundation and the experienced specialists, together with the volunteers, ensure that there are many research opportunities. Knowledge is made available free of charge and due to the many cases that have been successfully completed, it can be stated that the methodology works.