Deal with sextortion

Current scam alert — 24 July 2019

Be aware of a current email scam where the email looks like it’s come from your own account, claims to have intimate content of you, and attempts to blackmail you for payment.

This is a scam—your computer has not been hacked and there is no content. The scam appears to be targeting Bigpond email accounts and often has ‘2 days to pay’ (or similar) as the subject line.

If you’ve received an email like this:

  • Disregard the email, don’t reply to it —and most importantly, don’t give them any money or bitcoin, or give in to any other demands.
  • Ensure you secure your online information with these easy steps:

Sextortion is a form of blackmail where a perpetrator threatens to reveal intimate images of you online unless you give in to their demands. These demands are typically for money, further intimate images, or sexual favours.

Perpetrators commonly target their victims through dating apps, social media, webcams or adult pornography sites.

While sextortion can be committed by individuals, organised crime is commonly behind it.

What are the red flags?

  • Something doesn’t add up—their online profile isn’t consistent with what you see and hear when you engage with them.
  • It’s happening too fast—they express strong emotions for you almost straight away, and quickly tempt you across to a more private channel, suggesting you get naked or sexual in a video call.
  • They make excuses—they say their webcam isn’t working and instead send a nude photo which they claim is of them.
  • They say they need help—they say they need money for some sort of personal emergency like medical treatment or to cover the rent, or even to travel to Australia.

What can I do?

Sextortion can be devastating for victims. We advise victims, or those being threatened with sextortion, to take the following steps:

  • Try to stay calm and report it to the eSafety Commissioner—we will work with you to get the right outcomes
  • Don’t give the perpetrator any money or additional images, and stop all contact with them
  • If you’re concerned about your physical safety call Triple Zero (000) or contact local police
  • Change your passwords for all social media and online accounts, and review your privacy and security settings
  • Get support from a trusted friend, family member or an expert counselling support service.

Safeguard against sextortion

Sextortion can be devastating for victims but here are some tips to help deal with it:

  1. Report it. Report what’s happened to us using our online report form. We’ll assess your situation and may also encourage you to consider reporting to other agencies like the police.
  2. Remind yourself it’s not your fault. Remember, anyone can be a victim of sextortion, you are not alone and you haven’t done anything wrong.
  3. Don’t panic. Reach out instead—get support from a trusted friend or family member as well as an expert counselling support service if you are feeling anxious or stressed.
  4. Don’t pay. Don’t give them any money or send any more pictures of yourself. Giving in to demands will actually make things worse.
  5. Stop all contact with the perpetrator. Block them and ask your friends to do the same. Consider temporarily deactivating your social media accounts (but don’t delete them as you may lose evidence that way).
  6. Collect evidence. Keep a record of all contact from the perpetrator, particularly any demands or threats and make a note of everything you know about the perpetrator. This could include the Skype name and ID, Facebook URL and Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN). Have a look at the helpful resources on our how to collect evidence page.
  7. Secure your accounts. Change the passwords for your social media and online accounts, and review the privacy and security settings of your accounts.
  8. Notify the relevant social media platform. Notify Skype, YouTube, or whichever app or social media service was used. You can find helpful links about reporting abuse to social media platforms on our website.
Michael standing in front of a tree

Michael’s story

Michael was in his 40s when he first tried online dating. He was amazed at how many interesting women he could meet online. He started messaging with a woman he liked. She said her name was Susie—she was beautiful and it all seemed fun and flirtatious.

Read more