BUFFALO, N.Y., July 10, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Last week, reality star, Rob Kardashian’s ex-girlfriend, Blac Chyna, accused him of posting explicit images of her on social media, shedding light on the growing practice of revenge porn and sextortion.
“Revenge porn cases are typically initiated by a jilted partner after an intimate relationship ends,” says Terry Evans, president of Cybersleuth Investigations Inc., a Buffalo, New York-based firm that helps victims of Internet scams. “Sextortion, on the other hand, is a form of blackmail, where criminals target victims online, engage them in a ‘relationship’ and then coerce them into sending explicit images.”
These images are then used to extort either money or sexual favors from their targets. Since victims rarely know the true identity of the online predator, sextortion cases are often harder to prosecute than those of revenge porn.
“Revenge porn is a crime of passion, anger or jealousy,” Evans says. “It typically involves a perpetrator who has a connection with the victim and is seeking to embarrass or humiliate them. In contrast, sextortion is a crime of opportunity with a focus on profit.”
To successfully prosecute either a revenge porn or sextortion case, Evans notes there needs to be a reported or discovered crime, a known victim and perpetrator, and jurisdiction.
“Revenge porn usually has these elements and legislation can be quite effective,” Evans says. “In sextortion cases, perpetrators target their victims on social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and hide behind fake photos and fictitious identities.”
The anonymity used by perpetrators in sextortion cases makes it easy for them to hide in cyberspace, and harder for their true identity to be discovered.
“In addition, sextortion victims are often ashamed to come forward and report the crime. Some would rather die, and often do commit suicide, rather than being publicly exposed,” Evans says.
Currently, 38 states have revenge porn laws and three states (Arkansas, Utah and California have sextortion laws). Last month, the Online Safety Modernization Act, a bill that aims to combat sextortion and other online crimes, was introduced to Congress by Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA-5), Congresswoman Susan Brooks (IN-5), and Congressman Patrick Meehan (PA-7).
While Evans is hopeful that one day it will be easier to prosecute crimes such as sextortion, he hopes to assist both potential victims, and those who have been scammed, in the interim.
“I work with both men and women to validate the identity of the person they are talking to online early in the relationship in order to avoid being scammed,” Evans says. “Even if a client is faced with sextortion, I assist them in identifying their predator, and reporting the crime, rather than facing continued harassment and blackmail.”