Online blackmail scams often start in the same way. A stranger – typically posing as a woman – slides into their target’s messages on Facebook, Instagram, or Skype with some flattery and then a request to video chat.
If the target agrees, the stranger wastes no time in insisting the conversation gets a little hot and heavy. They may even send a naked picture or sex video without prompting. But that unsolicited offer strategically builds a false sense of trust. It makes the target feel comfortable enough to send a few nude photos. Or a masturbating video. Or several.
Suddenly the sexting stops and the stranger reveals who they really are – an online blackmailer. Unlike sextortionists, these type of online blackmailers tend to prey on men and their goal is money. However, just like sextortionists, blackmailers who use this scam exploit their victims’ fear for their own gain.
If you are the victim of online blackmail, we urge you to follow these five steps right away.
Don’t delete a thing. You might want to delete evidence for several reasons: embarrassment over being duped, it’s evidence of cheating, or a panicked attempt to get it out of sight, out of mind. The second you start erasing that proof, you put more control in the blackmailer’s hands. Learn how to organize your evidence with our Incident Tracking Chart.
The scammer will start baiting you with demands and threats. Don’t respond. Those demands for money may be followed up with threats to message all of your Facebook or Insta friends and everyone you know with the videos or naked pics you took. Again, don’t respond.
Nobody wants their high school band teacher to see them in an intimate scenario. Blackmailers know this and prey on it. The initial demand may not seem that bad either. What’s a couple hundred bucks if it’ll make them go away? But paying online blackmailers says only one thing – you will do whatever they ask. So don’t pay and don’t keep chatting.
No matter how desperate you feel, don’t make offers. It shows a willingness to cooperate with the blackmailer. Don’t risk turning yourself into an ATM.
Although you might hope that ignoring the problem will make it go away that doesn’t always happen. The constant fear of what this scam could do to you is no way to live. If there are any parts of your life that could be damaged if this gets out – your public reputation, career, or relationship – you should get a plan together. Understanding exactly how a leak could affect you AND how to respond in this type of crisis is a move blackmailers don’t expect.
Ok, so you masturbated on cam to a stranger. That’s not illegal and it’s certainly not deserving of a terrifying scam.
An experienced law firm like C. A. Goldberg, PLLC can provide real-time crisis management from threat to actualization, advocate with law enforcement, and collaborate with contacts at major social media companies and adult websites to remove explicit content. We can help you take back control and protect your reputation. Click here to read more about how we can help when public figures have their privacy invaded. We can also assist with vulnerability reporting that outlines your professional and personal exposures that could follow an extortionist’s malicious actions, and strategic counsel on how to discuss your crisis with employers and loved ones.
Depending on several factors, including the amount of money being demanded and the victim’s professional and/or personal situation, we have found that some people who reach out for help with an online blackmail scam do not end up pursuing the case with an attorney because the cost of retaining a law firm may be higher than the amount of money demanded by the scammer. We want you to know that there are other options. You can file a report with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center here. They will ask for your name, address, telephone, and email, as well as details on how you were victimized and, if you paid, financial transaction information. The FBI’s ability to process your complaint will be based upon the accuracy and completeness of the information provided. If either you or the alleged subject of the Internet crime is located within the United States, regardless of citizenship, you can file a complaint with them. You may also contact your nearest FBI field office or report the scam at tips.fbi.gov.
You probably know many of our clients, but you probably do not know their stories. We provide real-time crisis management from threat to actualization, advocate with law enforcement, and collaborate with contacts at major social media companies and adult websites to remove explicit content. We can help you take back control and protect your reputation.
To discuss your legal options, call 646-666-8908 or send our office a message to tell us what’s going on.