Just the other day Netflix released season 3 of a popular British television series titled Black Mirror. If you have never watched Black Mirror before it touches on dark themes surrounding modern society in regards to new technology and its consequences. I bring this up because of one particular episode, episode 3, titled “Shut up and Dance”. To make a long story short a boy named Kenny is featured within this episode. One day a hacker gains access to his computer and records Kenny preforming an intimate act, and then uses that footage to blackmail the teenage boy. After watching this segment I thought to myself ” I don’t think this issue is really prominent in today’s world as much as it use to be”.
Well ladies and gentlemen, I was wrong. The National Crime Agency and the National Police Chiefs have recently reported that the number of webcam blackmail incidents have doubled from the 385 reports in 2015, to 846 as of November 2016. Authorities are now beginning to worry with the rise in cases. Four male suicides this year have been linked to webcam blackmail, to be more exact, “Sextortion”.
According to BBC, Sextortion is described as a form of blackmail where criminals use fake identities to befriend victims online before persuading the to perform sexual acts in front of their webcam. The NCA released figures showing that 95% of victims of sextortion were men or boys ranging from ages 14-82, however men aged between 21-30 hold a high percentage. Roy Sinclair from NCA states that “there was still “huge under-reporting of these kinds of offenses”, due to embarrassment
Sextortion is a serious problem being faced in the U.K. The NCA has offered advice for anyone who is being target by online criminals- Go to the police first, regardless of what you may “think” they will say. They do take these cases serious. Next, do not pay the ransom set by the attacker nor do not attempt to communicate any more with them. Take Screenshots of all messages, and suspend social media accounts to keep record of evidence for your case.