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I am being blackmailed: sextortion

What's the sextortion scam?

We distinguish between sextortion and the sextortion scam.

1. Sextortion

Sextortion is another word for sexual extortion. Victims are persuaded to send intimate images of themselves over the Internet. Afterwards, the extortionists threaten to spread the images if the victim does not pay up.

Never share intimate images of yourself over the Internet, especially with someone you haven't met. Are you a victim? Report it to your local police.

More information can be found on the childfocus website.

2. Sextortion Scam

As part of the sextortion scam, you will get an e-mail where extortionists claim to have hacked into your computer and taken intimate footage of you when you were watching porn. The extortionists threaten to put the images online unless you pay a fee. They will try to put pressure on you, by asking you to pay quickly. They will often ask for an amount to be transferred in Bitcoins. That is suspicious too. The sextortion scam is a bluff: the extortionists do not have any images of you.

The extortionists use a number of methods to convince you your computer has been hacked:

  • Sometimes they will mention an old password they found on the Internet. Some e-mail addresses with passwords circulate on the Internet, as a result of data breaches. It is therefore important to change your passwords regularly. Here you can read more about secure passwords.
  • Another method is to spoof your e-mail address. This makes it look like you are receiving an e-mail from your own e-mail account, so you might think that the extortionists have access to your mailbox. That is not the case. 

Did you get such a message? Don't panic.

  • If you do not share intimate images of yourself with others, the extortionist is bluffing. They can't have footage of you.
  • Mark the message as spam or unwanted e-mail. Block the sender.
  • Do not give into the request to pay a sum of money.
  • Don't reply to the e-mail.
  • Delete the e-mail.

You received a message and responded to it. What's next?

  • Mark the message as spam or unwanted e-mail. Block the sender.
  • In some sextortion scam e-mails, the sender will mention your (old) password. Have you confirmed that this is correct? We recommend that you immediately change the passwords of all accounts to strong passwords that are also unique for each account. Read all the tips on how to use passwords
  • Did you make a payment? File a complaint with the police.

Always be one step ahead of cybercriminals


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