Sextortion Investigation

Posted By Brie Austin In Category: Blog , Opinion

Sextortion seems to be on the rise, from college students to Jeff Bezos. Dr. What is sextortion you ask?

Before Jeff Bezos went public in February (about the Nation Enquirer trying to blackmail him with naked photos they said they had), few people had heard the term ‘sextortion.’ According to Wikipedia,

it refers to a form of blackmail in which sexual information or images are used to extort sexual favors from the victim. Social media and text messages are often the source of the sexual material and the threatened means of sharing it with others.”

The Jeff Bezos story was tantalizing news fodder. The tabloid that loved to publish sensationalist stories — like Hillary Clinton having an alien love child, — now was the story. And potentially in legal hot water too. They had photos of Jeff Bezos, apparently naked photos, and they were pretty confident that they could make an offer he couldn’t refuse. They were wrong. They poked an 800 lb Gorilla, and he — the wealthiest man in the world — poked, or rather, forcefully pushed back.

The incident shone a light on a problem few knew existed. But, unlike the Bezos case, where the National Enquirer obtained photos via two degrees of separation from Bezos, many of the cases seem to be predators hacking into social media, like this man who hired a hacker to crack someone’s SnapChat account.

So yes, sextortion seems to be a thing. One to take seriously. The victims of these crimes seem to also be mostly everyday people; students, young workers, even minors. For example, in January, a 31-year old in North Carolina was arrested after a three-month investigation, where it was alleged that he posed as a modeling agent, and then tried to blackmail as many as 40 victims.  In Tampa, a 21-year old Norwegian student hacked the University of Miami social media accounts to obtain photos of students, threating to release ‘suggestive photos’ and an ‘explicit video’ if one girl, in particular, didn’t chat with him.  A minor was a victim of an ex-boyfriend in San Juan.

Many articles on the subject warn people to be careful, and smart when adding any personal images online. Even dating sites can be a breeding ground for sextortion. According to the Federal Trade Commission, there were 21,000 romance-related scams reported last year, with a median loss of $2,600, or a combined $143 million.


In an episode on Wink News, Dr, Bart Rossi discusses the psychological effects of being a victim, but also provides some good advice for parents on how to keep their kids safe.


About Brie Austin

Co-author of I'd Do It Again, he is a columnist/reporter for a variety of magazines in the areas of music, lifestyle, nightlife, travel and business. He also writes business documents and creates copy for websites.

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