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So what is extortion? Simply put, it is when you do something online that another person can take advantage of.

Sextortion is webcam extortion

Demands are made for money from you when you engage with unknown persons (potential offenders) who use chat applications, the internet and a webcam. The extortion takes place when the unknown person (offender) persuades you (the victim) to remove their clothes in front of their web-cam and/or perform sexual acts. You believe this to be a private act – but it is not.  The offender, unbeknown to you (the victim) is recording everything that you do.  Very soon afterwards the offender will threaten you. They may demand money or publicise the video via YouTube or your Facebook contacts.

Sextortion is a global problem and can occur  anywhere the internet is accessible.

Keeping yourself safe whilst using the internet may not be something that first comes to mind when considering internet safety. You may think about your password, keeping your device security up-to-date but:

  • What about what you are doing?
  • Do you really know who you are engaging with?
  • Is that person really who they say they are?
  • Is that person really 16, good looking and living where they suggest?

Remote Access Trojan (RAT)

This refers to a webcam-based scam where malware is installed onto your computer and can be used to operate your own built-in webcam, recording images of you without your knowledge. This malware is known as a Remote Access Trojan (RAT), and can remotely activate your webcam, at the same time disabling your camera indicator light.

Keeping your computer security protection maintained and confirming that your web cam is de-activated when not in use should prevent this occurring. Some people have created a cover that can be placed over the camera for double protection.

What can YOU do?

Be sensible when using the internet – it is in your hands. Only activate your camera when you want to. Make sure it is ‘off’ at all times when not required. Never allow yourself to be duped into activity that you will later regret.

  • If using Skype be alert to the fact that ‘contacts’ are not always who they say they are. If you allow a relationship to develop be guarded if unusual requests are made of you.
  • If you use online chat rooms looking for a person to chat with – be careful about any relationship that you form and in particular if you are asked to transfer to Skype.
  • Some online chat rooms have a visual contact facility so if you are looking for a person to chat with and allow a relationship to form – be guarded on what you say and do.
  • Relationships are quick to develop. End any that you are not comfortable with – stay in control of what you do.
  • If you make a mistake, you have doubts or you need support or advice – contact the police or a support agency immediately.

REMEMBER – what goes on the internet stays on the internet – for ever.

Where can YOU get more help and advice?

Firstly, if you have already made a mistake, an error of judgement, it is normal to feel embarrassed, fearful and even vulnerable. Above all please be reassured that you are not alone. There are professional people that can help and will offer support and guidance in a professional and sensitive manner. But remember – you have to report the matter first.