'Sextortion' victim speaks of 'paralysing anxiety' and urges people to report cyber criminals

A 'sextortion' victim has spoken out about his experience in a bid to raise awareness after being blackmailed by cyber criminals.

Friday, 5th March 2021, 3:39 pm

The man, who prefers to remain anonymous, was 21 years old when he found himself duped online.

It happened after the man accepted a random ‘Friend’ request on Facebook from what turned out to be a fake profile

Within minutes, he was bombarded with messages, followed by video calls.

A 'sextortion' victim has urged people to report crime to police.

“When I answered the video call, I could see a woman on a bed who started to strip down," he said. "There was never any audio, just messages being sent, and I could see a naked woman on a bed. Then they asked if they could see me,” he explaining he then exposed himself. “You get hormonal and I thought, 'why not?'"

The criminals then asked to see his face.

“Literally, seconds later, they had my face on camera and sent a screenshot of that and of a video of me doing what I did. All the proof they needed, they had it. I went into severe panic mode then and they said if I didn’t send them £500 they would send it (the video) to my Facebook friends," he said.

"They also had all my contacts and they created a group chat of my family and threatened to send it to them. Obviously, the people who are closest to you, you don’t want them to see that type of thing. They caught me off guard completely.”

Describing his emotions after realising he was being blackmailed, he said: “I was mortified and really embarrassed, just severe anxiety came all over me. Like I was shaking.”

He explained he told his mum exactly what happened straightaway, and she encouraged him to report what happened to police.

“You either risk it and let them send it out, or give them the money. For me, telling someone else, especially someone so close to me, meant I had support and someone could help me through it," he said.

'Sextortion' is a form of blackmail where a criminal threatens to reveal intimate images of the victim online unless they give in to their demands. These demands are typically for money or further intimate images.

To anyone who finds themselves a victim of sextortion, this is his advice.

"I honestly couldn’t believe it happened to me. You think ‘it will never happen to me; it’s stuff people go on about’, but it’s very common,” he said. “The severe anxiety was paralysing, it was really bad, and I can only imagine how bad it would have been if I didn’t do something about it straight away. You have to act fast because the longer you leave it, the worse it’ll get.”

Detective Inspector Anthony Kelly, from the Criminal Investigation Branch said: “We are aware there has been an increase in the number of sextortion cases reported to police across all Districts in Northern Ireland recently.

“I would like to reassure anyone who finds themselves in this position that police are committed to fully investigating reports of online sextortion when it is reported to us.”