Types of Cybercrime
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.
A catfish refers to a person engaging in an online relationship while posing as someone else. By creating fake profiles on sites ranging from Twitter to Match.com, these predators trick unsuspecting people into thinking they are someone else entirely. They may send photos (which ultimately turn out to be taken from someone else’s social media profile), or even talk to you by phone using caller ID spoofing (a practice that allows someone to display a phone number different than the actual number from which the call was placed). They might suggest meeting, but will then have an emergency arise before the actual meeting takes place. They refuse to video chat, and their lives and interest in you almost seem too good to be true. Those who engage in catfishing are usually smart, experienced, charming, and witty. They are also master manipulators, who can easily convince you they care about you. They don’t. You are a means to an end. Catfishers initiate online relationships to get money, control, or to identify victims who will engage in sexting.
These scammers target vulnerable populations –often men and women in their 50’s or 60’s who are divorced or widowed and may feel past their prime, or those with weight issues or who are battling chronic illnesses. They gain their victim’s trust with elaborate stories and prey on their loneliness with compliments and declarations of love. But the reality is the man or woman of your dreams may actually be a scammer looking to exploit an online relationship for financial gain. Once a predator gains a victim’s trust they often ask for money to help them through an “emergency.” Never give out financial data or related information to anyone you meet online.
A disturbing trend that is on the rise, revenge porn involves the practice of sharing sexual images on the Internet without consent. Depending on the state, this crime carries jail time and a possible fine. A recent study showed that two-thirds of revenge porn incidents involved women under 30, with suspects being former partners. Those who share “sexual selfies” often find the photos coming back to haunt them after a breakup. Images are used not just for revenge, but also to control, abuse and humiliate victims. There are also cases where computers are hacked and webcams are accessed in order to obtain explicit images.