Phishing emails exploit fear, authority, and urgency to manipulate you into acting hastily. Take a moment to carefully evaluate the email and avoid clicking on any links or attachments. These deceptive emails are designed to trick you and might appear authentic, so be on the lookout for the following signs:
– Is the email personalized with your name, or does it use your email address, or perhaps no name at all?
– Criminals often attempt to create official-looking emails by including logos and graphics—does the design, spelling, and overall quality meet your expectations?
– Does the email contain threats or deadlines? Be cautious of words like “immediately” and “respond within 24 hours.”
– Utilize your email settings to filter out spam and suspicious messages.
Guarding against social media sextortion
People tend to behave differently online compared to their real-life interactions. The online environment provides a sense of anonymity and a diminished fear of consequences.
Exercise caution while using the internet. Only share personal information with individuals you know and trust. Regularly review your profile settings and ensure that your accounts are private. Social media sextortion thrives on gaining access to your contacts and leveraging them against you, with criminals threatening to expose your videos and images unless you pay them. By keeping your social media profiles and contacts private, you become a less attractive target.
Some online platforms offer video chat capabilities. Only activate your camera when necessary and ensure it is turned off and covered at all other times. Refrain from allowing yourself to be coerced or persuaded into engaging in activities that you might later regret, such as sharing photos, videos, or engaging in explicit behavior.
When using video chat apps, remain vigilant as the identities of your “contacts” may not always be genuine. If an online conversation develops, be cautious if you receive requests. Conversations can easily be recorded using apps or other devices.
Exercise caution when using apps to find chat or flirtation partners. Watch out for warning signs, such as conversations quickly becoming sexual or being asked to move to another platform or app. Often, this is an attempt to gain access to more of your contacts. Online relationships can escalate rapidly, and in the heat of the moment, you might be inclined to engage in behaviors you wouldn’t consider in person. End any conversations that make you uncomfortable and maintain control over your actions.
Recognizing when something feels wrong can be challenging. If you have doubts or require support or advice, contact the police or a support agency as soon as possible.
What to do if you fall victim to sextortion
Remain calm and composed. The police will handle your case seriously and in utmost confidentiality. You will not face judgment.
Do not pay. While some victims who give in to the demands may hear nothing further, others find themselves pressured for more money. In certain instances, even if the ransom is paid, the criminals may still share the compromising materials.
Cease all communication with the criminals. Capture screenshots of any exchanges and keep them as evidence.
Make note of all details provided by the criminals, such as the profile name, URL, method of payment, and account/transfer/cryptocurrency details.
Deactivate your social media account but refrain from deleting it. Report the incident to the platform to have any incriminating videos blocked. Deactivating the account instead of permanently deleting it allows for the preservation of data, enabling reactivation at a later date. This aids law enforcement in gathering evidence and ensures your online memories are not lost forever.
Report the incident to both the police and the relevant social media platform/website.