Communication and interaction is increasingly occurring online, and new threats have emerged, posing significant risks to individuals' privacy and security. One such alarming threat is sextortion. This cybercrime involves coercing victims into performing sexual acts on camera or sending explicit images under the threat of releasing sensitive information or compromising photos. The rise in sextortion cases is a pressing issue, and understanding how to prevent it is crucial for safeguarding oneself and others. 
 
What is Sextortion? 
Sextortion is a form of blackmail where perpetrators threaten to distribute explicit content of the victim unless they meet specific demands, which often include money, further sexual content, or other favours. These criminals typically gain access to private images or videos through hacking, phishing, or by tricking victims into sharing them voluntarily. Once they have the material, they use it to manipulate and control their victims. 
 
Advice to parents and carers if their child says that someone is trying to trick, threaten or blackmail them online: 
 
Don’t pay, do stop contact and block: you may be tempted to pay, but there is no guarantee that this will stop the threats. As the offender’s motive is to get money, once you have shown you can pay, they will likely ask for more and blackmail may continue. If you have paid, don’t panic but don’t pay anything more. Help your child to stop all communication with the offender and block them on any accounts that they have been contacted on. 
Avoid deleting anything: try not to delete anything that could be used as evidence such as messages, images, telephone numbers, and bank account details. 
Report to the police or CEOP: call 101 or 999 if there is an immediate risk of harm to your child. Or you can use the CEOP Safety Centre to report any online blackmail attempts. 
 
Prevention Strategies 
Preventing sextortion requires a proactive approach and awareness of safe online practices. Here are some crucial steps to protect yourself: 
Be Cautious with Personal Information: Avoid sharing sensitive information or explicit images online, even with trusted individuals. Once something is shared digitally, it can be challenging to control its distribution. 
Secure Your Devices: Ensure your devices are protected with strong, unique passwords, and enable two-factor authentication. Regularly update your software to guard against vulnerabilities. 
Be Aware of Phishing Scams: Be skeptical of unsolicited messages or emails that ask for personal information. Verify the sender's identity before clicking on any links or downloading attachments. 
Privacy Settings: Adjust privacy settings on social media and other online accounts to limit who can see your personal information and posts. 
Educate Yourself and Others: Stay informed about the latest online threats and educate friends and family, especially young people, about the dangers of sextortion. 
Report Suspicious Activity: If you suspect you are being targeted, report the incident to the relevant platform and local law enforcement. Do not comply with the perpetrator’s demands. 
Support Networks: Encourage open communication about online experiences within families and peer groups. Knowing that there is support can help victims come forward without fear of judgment. 
 
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