Beware of Online Sextortion
Online Sextortion occurs when a fraudster threatens to circulate your private and sensitive material online, if you do not provide images of a sexual nature, sexual favors, or money. The perpetrator may also threaten to harm your friends or relatives by using information they have obtained from electronic devices unless you comply with their demands.
Sextortion is a form of online abuse, wherein the cybercriminal makes use of various channels like instant messaging apps, SMS, online dating apps, social media platforms, porn sites etc., to lure the users into intimate video/audio chats and makes them pose nude or obtains revealing pictures from them. The fraudsters later make use of this material to harass, embarrass, threaten, exploit and blackmail the victims.
- Abuse and Exploitation
- Threats of public humiliation
- Mental distress
- The fraudsters try to lure the users into sharing intimate content in different ways
- posting messages for video/audio chat
- using fake accounts/profiles
- creating pages/ad campaigns
- The users get victimized when they
- pay for the such services and pose nude or in compromising position in video calls
- accepts or sends friend requests to the fake account/profile and involves in intimate interaction posing nude in video chats, sends revealing pictures etc.,
- The fraudster records video/ takes screenshot/ takes pictures/makes use of revealing pictures/morphs the pictures sent
- The fraudster starts blackmailing the victim leading to sextortion.
The users of porn sites may also fall prey sextortion, when their chats/video calls on the porn sites are used for blackmailing by fraudsters.
Channels used for trapping the victims into sextortion
The fraudsters resort to sextortion following the modus operandi given above using various channels like -
- Messaging apps
- Dating apps
- Social media platforms
- Porn sites etc.,
Warning signs indicate attempts of sextortion by cyber criminals
- Repeated untoward messages/video calls from unknown number/s
- Repeated friend requests from unknown person
- Repeated request for private intimate pictures, video chats, photos
- Manipulating or redirecting the conversation towards intimate topics
- Rush through the things and trying to develop intimacy
Warning signs that may indicate victimization
- Signs of fear, nervousness, anxiety, depression
- Isolating self and being very reactive & emotional
- Feeling desperate and frustrated
- Having suicidal thoughts and self harming behavior.
Safety tips to protect yourself against online sextortion
- Never share any compromising images, posts, videos of yourself to anyone, no matter who they are
- Remember that the internet never forgets or forgives. If you have shared something once, it will remain present on the Net forever, in one form or the other.
- Never accept or request for friendship from unknown people on social media platforms.
- Enable privacy and security features on your social media accounts and instant messaging apps.
- Use “Report User” option over social media platforms to report any such
- Do not share your personal/private pictures publicly.
- Turn off your electronic devices and web cameras when you are not using them.
- Use two factor authentication with strong passwords and different passwords for different your social media accounts.
- During an online interaction or chat, if the person on the other side is trying to rush through the things and develop intimacy, then it is cause of alarm.
- Never allow anyone, however close to capture any private part or intimate activity with any device. Such a data can be misused at a later stage.
- Do not accept video calls or open attachments from people you do not know.
- Save the evidence and the screen shots for referring to the incident later.
- Do not suffer in silence, know that you are not alone, reach out and seek help from trusted family and friends.
- File a complaint against sextortion online or at your nearest cyber crime cell.Remember that you can also anonymously file an online complaint against such offence on the national cyber crime reporting portal cybercrime.gov.in.
- Avoid clicking intimate/nude/semi-nude photos/videos on your phone, which if leaked could cause embarrassment. There are several rouge mobile apps that could access your gallery/storage and can be used to blackmail you.
- Don’t hesitate in filing a complaint or contacting police due to shame, embarrassment and self-blame.
Know about what the Law Says with regard to this offence ?
It is a punishable offence by law and attracts section 354 (D), 506 / 507, 509 IPC and 384 IPC,and Sec.67 of IT Act is also applicable.
Offenders in such crimes usually thrive on the victim’s silence and lack of clarity in the law. Hence, everyone needs to be aware of the codes and sections that will help them in such cases.
Section 108(1)(i)(a) of the Criminal Procedure Code empowers the victim to call the magistrate of her locality and inform him/her about the person whom she believes could circulate any obscene matter. The magistrate has the power to detain such person(s) and can order him to sign a bond to stop him from circulating the material. This might deter the accused. This is a quick remedial section because the victim can lodge the complaint with the magistrate without any direct evidence against the accused.
Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) incriminates any person who distributes or threatens to disperse any intimate and compromising images of someone through any electronic means, including apps and other social media.
If a picture of woman is clicked in an obscene manner without her knowledge and is distributed, a voyeurism case under Section 354C of the IPC can also be filed along with the aid of other relevant sections from the Information Technology Act.