Predators or organized crime members can be extraordinarily patient, whether it is the grooming process, blackmailing to obtain more images, or holding onto pictures until there is a significant event in that person’s life (e.g. college acceptance, marriage, or a new job). While waiting, they obtain information about the victim from his or her contacts, social media, the dark web, family, or school. Then, they threaten to send the pictures to all the victim’s contacts unless they get paid with money, more images, videos, or sex. Never fall for these ploys. If you give into their demands, it will never end, even though they promise it will. This is their game and their business. Always involve law enforcement. Law enforcement understands that you are the victim, even if you originally shared a photo of yourself.

Watch the video below and ask yourself:

  • How many types of social media were used?
  • Why did the victims think they were safe?

Video | 4:31

Watch the video below and ask yourself:

  • What cognitive biases does Ashley admit to having before being victimized?
  • At the end of the video, what does Ashley share that she wished was true?

Video | 5:13

Sextortion is one of the fastest-growing global crimes, and organized crime members have become very active and proficient in sextortion. Both young people and adults across the world are targets, usually for money, but victims have also been forced into sex and committing crimes. Many suicides have been attributed to escaping self or their family’s humiliation. The truth is, regardless of what has happened, suicide is never the answer. If you are in this situation, talk with law enforcement, and with your parent or trusted adult. Remember that what is news today will not always be news. You will get through this. If you need someone to talk to, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 800-273-8255. You are not alone.

Watch the video below and ask yourself:

  • Do you think most teens have the maturity to resist Jess?
  • What could you say to other teens to convince them of the dangers?

Video | 1:59

Resources for Fighting Sextortion

Two very good resources from the FBI are available to help you fight sextortion:

Do not allow criminals to win by falling for their ploys. The best way to protect yourself and minimize this from occurring is by being careful what you post online, and by not taking sexualized photos of yourself. Even if the photos never get sent, the iCloud and other storage clouds can be hacked. When potential employers or schools look at your digital profile, let them see the type of person they want on their team. Own your life, respect yourself, respect others, and educate those around you.

Fight sextortion and revenge porn through educating yourself and others. Would you want your little brother or sister sending out naked pictures? No. Tell him or her why. Tell them to watch out for Internet offers that seem too good to be true, that people will say anything to get the picture, and that they need to immediately report threats to a trusted adult and law enforcement.