Published: Published Date – 12:50 AM, Tue – 1 November 22
Victims are being contacted on social media and messenger platforms by women who have attractive profile pictures. They lure unsuspecting men with seductive talk and gradually convince them to have an explicit conversation or a nude video call.
When the victim accepts further conversations, they simply record the entire event. Most of the scams end up either as “proposal turns extortion” or “pretty woman is a man” or “I have your sex recording” or “making gay man pay”.
Fraudsters know how to invoke fear in the victim and start blackmailing him for money, threatening to share the video clips and explicit conversations with relatives and friends on social media. They will let the victim know they can destroy their reputation both online and offline at any moment.
Nowadays, it’s surprising to note that many a time, we have seen a victim being blackmailed even if they haven’t shared any explicit conversations or videos, and all they do is morph out photos and videos, etc.
Who creates the opportunity?
Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram create an opportunity for young women and men living in socially conservative societies to be able to communicate and meet and engage in forbidden intimacies, fantasies and behaviours.
We regularly see plenty of online stories on dating apps and social media expressions where men and women pose as wealthy individuals promising love and marriage to innocent victims and they disappear once the victims are financially or sexually exploited. We also have seen a few instances where victims have tried to commit suicide as a result of sextortion on social media platforms.
Sextortion takes place when a victim receives a private message from an unknown girl. Fraudsters engage them in a deep conversation, eventually leading to an online relationship. The fraudster patiently traps the men and the sextortion begins.
The money is extorted or if the victim is unable to pay the money, they are asked to introduce their close friends. It’s something like you getting fooled to fool others.
* The victim receives a private message from an unknown person (scammer) and they seduce the victim into having a nude conversation.
* Victims do all the requests made by fraudsters as the fraudsters themselves are also doing the same while conversing.
* Fraudsters screen records of victims’ nude video chats together with their faces.
* Scammers demand money, blackmailing to post the victim’s naked conversations on social media, tagging all their friends and relatives.
* Even if the victim agrees to pay money and pays, the blackmail doesn’t end there, and it’s an endless loop.
Should you pay the ransom?
The fraudsters will initially ask you to pay a small amount as a ransom to avoid unnecessary hassles or loss of reputation. It’s important to remember that sextortion will continue as long as the victims are willing to pay, and in this process, we have seen many victims lose their entire savings in such scams.
For people who refuse to pay, the fraudsters deploy a different technique. They are either asked to introduce their close friends or the victims might get a threatening call from a fraudster impersonating a police officer. Due to fear of the police and loss of reputation, victims who did not pay earlier agree to pay the ransom.
Report social media abuse
Tips to avoid sextortion fraud
* We shouldn’t click on unwanted links in our social media or messages sent by unknown people.
* If ever receive a video call from an unknown person, don’t pick it up, just block it.
* Don’t download apps using .APK and .DMZ files. Download Apps only from Play Store or Apps Store.
* Don’t allow the untrustworthy app to access your phone’s file managers, etc.
* Don’t share your OTPs or passwords, and don’t scan QR codes.
* Choose strong, complex passwords and use two-factor authentication for all social media, messaging accounts and emails.
* Cover the cameras of your devices, including computers and webcams, with the assistance of tape, stickers or together with your thumb.
* Use social media privacy settings or connect with known people only.
* Avoid using online dating sites. Most of the sextortion cases popped up among those that logged in to dating sites.
* Never send any compromising images or videos of yourself to anyone, including your spouse too.
What if you are scammed
* Some victims delete their social media accounts, assuming that it will protect them from fraudsters. However, the right solution is to keep conversations in hidden mode on your social media platforms so that they will work as evidence for investigation agencies.
* Secondly (a) Report the scam or issue on the social media portal. (b) Change your password (c) Block the account (if someone is harassing, trolling or threatening you.) (d) Store the screenshots of payments or bullying, etc. (e) If your problem is not resolved on social media channels you may file a complaint at https://cybercrime.gov.in/ or contact your local police station.