This form of online exploitation involves an online predator threatening to distribute a person’s private or sensitive photos, if the target doesn’t provide them with images of a sexual nature, sexual favors or money.

This is how it works: after befriending a target on social media and entering into an “online relationship,” predators encourage victims to share intimate and/or nude photos. Some take it a step further and either coerce or blackmail their victims into performing sexually explicit acts on a webcam. The predator may sell the video online, or blackmail the victim by threatening to make the video public to the victim’s family, friends or employer. Sometimes sextortion involves hacking into a target’s computer to acquire images. The goal is always a monetary payment, ruining a reputation, or getting the target to do something that he or she wouldn’t normally do.

One in 10 women say they have been harassed online by someone threatening to expose nude photos, and yet sadly many cases of sextortion go unreported and unprosecuted because victims feel ashamed or embarrassed. And while sextortion victims are typically females, there have been a substantial number of male victims as well.

If you have been a victim of sextortion, don’t pay your blackmailer and don’t panic. We can work with you and local law enforcement agencies to deal with and resolve these matters confidentially. You aren’t alone and no one will judge you for being put into this unfortunate situation by savvy criminals.