Sextortion – how not to become a victim

File Photo: Pixabay.

AFTER a recent appeal to the public via media for victims of ‘naked pics for cash’ extortion to come forward, the South African Community Crime Watch (SACCW) phone lines and emails have been bombarded with victim’s reports.

According to CEO of SACCW, Steven King, investigations in conjunction with HAWKS DPCI as well as Western Union have so far yielded a disturbing trend that people need to be warned about.

“There has been a spike in this method occurring since the later part of 2016. Although very prevalent overseas for some time, with warnings being issued by the FBI, it seems only recently has there been a sharp increase in South Africa. Victims’ private information is obtained via Facebook including family and friends’ contact details, photos as well as the contact details of the potential victim,” said King.


He said there are three general angles of approach:

• Nude photos are sourced from the internet (normally porn sites) and photoshopped to look like the victim. Pre-contact is not made in this type of case. The extortionists start demanding immediately amounts ranging from R300 to hundred of thousands of Rands and promise on payment to delete the photos. If no payment is received they then threaten to post the photos all over social media targeting friends, family on the victims friends list as well as his/her own FB Page. Some photos are photo shopped to include family members. If the victim declares they do not have the required amount, a bargaining down process begins. On occasion the victim is ordered to show a screen shot of his/her bank balance. Threats can become violent in nature.

• The victims cell number will be obtained from FB as well as friends and family details. The perpetrator will then create a fake profile on their WhatsApp to include a picture of a young, attractive person of the opposite sex. They will start a general conversation which will escalate to where the perpetrator will then start asking for nude pictures. In turn they supply a naked picture obtained from the internet (supposedly of themselves). Once these exchanges have been made so the extortion process is put in place as the photos they are wanting are now in their possession. So the same demanding approach taken as in above mentioned.

• Third and not so common approach is where nude pictures of victims are somehow obtained and the same extortion methods put in place. There are various ways these pictures are obtained. Reports have been received of pictures being sent between partners/friends via social media, shared in trust (then re-shared) or obtained via stolen hardware. Incidents of cell phones that have been sold and have not been cleared still having private pictures and contacts have also been reported. These pictures once the owners have been traced (by contacting those in the address book and tricking them into supplying the identity of those in the pictures) once again become material used in extortion.


Tips to protect yourself from sextortion:

• Ensure your Facebook account is restricted and does not allow everyone to see you friends list, personal contact details and photos. Only accept invites from trusted applicants.

• Take care who you are socialising with on social media groups such as WhatsApp and 2go. Do not share personal information with someone you have not met or “trust”.

• If you have been approached report at SAPS a case of extortion. Consult with SACCW should you be experiencing problems opening up such cases.

• Ensure any computer or cell sold is wiped clear.

• Watch your children’s activity on social media as well we there safety settings and who they are socializing with.

• If it’s too good to be true, it’s too good to be true. Don’t be a sucker.

If you have been a victim of sextortion, please report the incident to SACCW’s Steven King at [email protected] or Mike Venter at [email protected]



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Deshni Ramkissoon-Pillay

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