Based on the FBI’s Internet Complaint Center reports, sextortion scams have skyrocketed amid strict home COVID-19 quarantine protocols during the pandemic. Scam artists typically send emails threatening you to expose intimate images or videos if you don’t give them money. Aside from losing money, some even end up taking their own lives, indicating just how serious these scams are. To help protect yourself against these scammers, we will share what sextortion scams are, the types of sextortion scams, and how you can avoid them. Read on to help combat these crooks!
What Are Sextortion Scams?
Sextortion scams involve threatening or blackmailing people by exposing explicit images, videos, and other intimate activities for monetary gain. Scammers will usually send you emails saying that they have a copy or a recording of your sexually explicit content and that they will send it to your family, friends, and literally anyone if you don’t agree to pay them.
They will also claim that they have access to your browser history, proving that you’ve watched pornography. However, the truth is, they don’t have a copy of these images or videos, and they’re just trying to take advantage of your fear to gain money.
Types of Sextortion Scams
The first step to avoiding sextortion scams is knowing the different types and tactics used by scam artists, which we’ll discuss below:
This type of sextortion scam starts with a romance scammer that you meet online. They will show interest in you, shower you with sweet and touching messages, and then declare their love for you even in the early stages of communication. Since they sound genuine, you think they’re someone you can trust and consider a real partner.
However, once they think you’re comfortable and in love with them, they will ask for money and promise to pay you back. Then, they will ask you to send intimate images and videos. While you may think it’s normal for couples to do this, scammers will start blackmailing you for money once they have these photos or videos.
A common type of sextortion scam is phishing. The scammer will send you an email saying that they’ve hacked your device and recorded you while watching porn. They will also say that they have a copy of all the pornographic sites you have visited. And, if you don’t pay them, they will share this embarrassing content with everyone.
However, these kinds of threats are usually empty, and they can’t even share sufficient information to support their claims. It’s obviously a scam if you haven’t visited any porn websites, but the scammers claim otherwise. While it’s natural to feel afraid when you receive threats, do not make the mistake of sending them money or sharing more personal information, and report them immediately.
As more people have been using Zoom since the pandemic began, scammers take this as an opportunity to collect more victims. They will tell you that they have maximized the security vulnerabilities of the Zoom app. So, they have gained access to your camera and device and made footage of your sexual acts. This is almost certainly a lie.
In one particular email, a scammer asked an individual for a $2,000 bitcoin, giving a two-day deadline for the payment. However, no vulnerabilities were found in the app, which means that the scammers were only bluffing.
Scammers pretend to be a young girl and reach out to guys on dating apps, looking to “get lucky.” Once a guy is lured in, they convince them to send them their phone number since they don’t like talking on the app. Once they send them their phone numbers, the girl convinces them to send explicit pictures of themselves by sending stolen explicit photos to them.
The victims send their pictures over, and the girl states she’s sixteen years old. The guy blocks her thinking that it’s over, but the scammer still has the victims’ phone number. They start contacting the victim as the dad of the supposed daughter and claim that if the victims don’t send them money, they will contact the cops for talking to their underage daughter. The victims become scared and start sending money over to the scammer, but the amount of money is never enough. The scammer requests more money from their victims until they are fearful and bankrupt.
How To Avoid Sextortion Scams
Given how sextortion scams can hurt not only your savings but also your mental health, learn how to avoid them with the following steps:
- Ignore emails that blackmail you for money. Do not click on any link included in the email to avoid identity theft and malware.
- Do not pay either via wire transfer or gift cards.
- Do not send private images or videos of yourself to anyone, especially those you’ve met online. Also, avoid storing embarrassing content on your devices.
- Install security software to keep your device protected.
- Remain calm even after receiving sextortion emails. If you panic, you may end up complying with the scammer’s demands even if you have nothing to hide or be afraid of.
- Use strong passwords, and change them often. Use different passwords for several websites.
- Keep track of your bank statements to make sure there are no unusual activities.
- Search the sentences from the email on the web to find out whether they’re a scam.
- Make it a habit to cover your webcam if you are not using it. While there’s only a slim chance that your webcam will be compromised, taking this step will help you feel secure.
- Don’t send anyone any personal or financial information.
Sextortion Scams: Stay Alert With Social Catfish
Sextortion scams continue to surge through phishing, romance scams, and Zoom campaigns. Through the tips we have given above, you can avoid these types of scams. If you need to verify the identity of someone you think is a sextortion scammer, visit Social Catfish and run a reverse search.