Webcam blackmail usually involves people being lured into taking off some or all of their clothes in front of their webcam, only to be told that you have been recorded and that the video will be posted online and/or shown to the victim’s contacts unless a fee is paid – usually a substantial sum of money. Sometimes, the victim is also enticed into performing intimate acts.
There is no guarantee that once the blackmail demand is met, there will not be further demands, or that the criminal will not post the video anyway. The consequences can range from embarrassment to humiliation and in extreme cases, have resulted in self-harm of even victims taking their own lives. Males and females of any age, anywhere, can become victims.
Because webcam blackmailers are often based abroad, it is very difficult to locate and arrest them.
- Never get lured into removing your clothes or performing sexual acts in front of your webcam.
- If victimised, do not pay any fees but report the crime, however embarrassing it may seem at the time.
- You form a relationship online and after a period of increasing familiarity, get asked to remove your clothes and/or perform sexual acts on your webcam. Your cyber boy or girlfriend is in fact a criminal gang or fraudster working alone.
- You take your clothes off as a dare ‘nomination’ with friends, only to be blackmailed either by those known to you, or if the video or stills fall into the wrong hands.
- You could receive demands for money if you do not comply, and/or the blackmailer could twist the circumstances and report you to the authorities for, for example, grooming or sexual offences against children.
Avoiding Webcam Blackmail
- Do not get lured into compromising situations such as removing clothes or performing intimate acts online. You do not know who may see the images.
- Always remember that what goes online may well stay online.
- Be wary about who you invite or accept invitations from on social networking sites. Do not accept friendship requests from complete strangers … you would not do this in real life.
- Update the privacy settings on your social networking accounts so only people you know can view your account.
- Do not include any sensitive, private or confidential information in profiles.
- If you use online dating sites, choose those that offer the ability to email prospective dates using a service that conceals both parties’ true email addresses.
- Also on dating sites, set up a separate email account that does not use your real name. This is very simple and quick to do using such providers as Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail or gmail.
- Quickly block nuisance and fraudulent users from further contact with you and also report them for abuse.
- If you become a victim of this type of scam, do not respond to the blackmailer’s demands, but report the issue to the police and the relevant social networking site.
- If you think that you have been persuaded by anyone to part with payment details, contact your bank or card issuer immediately.