Sextortion and Other Forms of Cybercrimes are Difficult for Police to Fight
First Published: 12th of June, 2022Last updated: June 12, 2022 at 23:39 pm
Sadly there are hungry people all over the world. Some of these hungry people are also evil. There are those who start a business, get a job, or pursue an education to change their realities, but others turn to a life of crime. That’s why there are so many criminals roaming the streets at night and hiding in dark alleyways. These people do not have the ability or choose not to earn money in the correct way. They choose a life of crime. Some of them rob at gunpoint, break into buildings, and steal when no one is looking. Crime takes many forms. But with the rise of internet technology, new forms of crimes have surfaced. These crimes are called “cybercrimes” because they take place in “cyberspace.” But despite being virtual in nature, they are none the less heinous.
Sextortion is one of the most heinous forms of cybercrimes that has evolved with the internet. In 2013, a British teenager committed suicide after he was terrorized by sextortionists. The lad was just 17 years old. He thought he was chatting with a girl his age on social media, but he was being tricked by a group of criminals in an impoverished community in the Philippines. The individual, either a girl or someone pretending to be a girl, lured the boy into sending nude photos by first sending nudes of herself. Then, when they got enough, they revealed their true colors and demanded money from him. If not, they would send the nude photos, and perhaps nude video clips to all his friends and family. It is easy to imagine the terror and embarrassment that might have run through this lad’s mind. He begged his attackers not to release the photos, but they replied, “I will make you suffer. Kill yourself!”
The lad couldn’t bear it and jumped over a bridge committing suicide. British Police tracked the criminals down to an impoverished community in the Philippines. The Filipino police were engaged and several persons were arrested. Nevertheless, the accused denied involvement in the crime and to date, no one has been charged or brought to justice.
Sextortion, as described above, is becoming more and more rampant all over the world. Despite strong efforts to educate the general public, especially men, how to be on the alert for these types of cybercriminals, most men are desperate for the attention of what appears like a beautiful woman on the internet, and it’s hard to educate them about the dangers. In 2020, a young man reported that he was lying in bed one night when his Facebook messenger showed a chat from a young girl who was on his friends list. He explained that he can’t remember when or how he became Facebook friends with the young woman, but Facebook showed that they had been friends for over a year.
The girl chatted him up and told him that she was feeling horny. She then requested a video call. During the videocall, she took off her clothes and started to masturbate. She then cut the call and asked for a WhatsApp number. The man gave it to her. She then video-called him several times, each time taking off her clothes and masturbating. Eventually, the man became enticed and did the same on camera, not knowing that the woman had equipment recording him.
After a few minutes into the video sex chat, the woman cut the call abruptly, then sent him a short video clip showing him masturbating. She said, “here’s your scandal video bitch! You have ten seconds….” The man blocked her at that point. She then sent a WhatsApp message to the man and said, “it’s too late to block me.” She uploaded several screenshots showing that she had already saved all the man’s Facebook information, including the names of close friends and relatives. She told him again that he has ten seconds to decide whether his scandal video is shared to the world. The man was traumatized, but he did the right thing. He said, “Have fun asshole. No one cares.” Then he blocked her on WhatsApp also. He also reported the chats to Facebook and WhatsApp. The next morning, he woke up wondering if his inbox would be flooded by hundreds of messages…if his video had gone viral, and if people would be poking fun at him. But no such thing happened. Two years later, he never heard back from the cybercriminal, and no one reported seeing his video.
This man did the right thing. When the criminal sees that you are not afraid or worried, and that you cannot be blackmailed, they will very likely leave you alone because there is no profit in it for them. On the other hand, some people get scared and pay money. When they do, there is no end to it. These criminals will juice you to your last dollar and perhaps to the end of your life. If you give in to them, they will not stop. And they will probably still release your “scandal video” or photos in the end. The key is to don’t give in to their blackmail.
Worryingly, the police are very ineffective in fighting this type of cybercrime. They simply lack the expertise, mechanism, or the will to fight it, and these criminals abound and are having a field day with unsuspecting men (and sometimes) women, all over the world. A few months ago, a young girl whom I didn’t know started a conversation with me on Facebook Messenger. I took a look and saw that were were friends on Facebook although I cannot remember how we had become friends, but we were friends on Facebook for about one year. She started to say that I’m attractive and that she likes me. She then sent a few nude photos and asked me to send mine. I knew what was up. I responded that I don’t know her and I won’t send nudes to anyone I don’t know. She continued to insist, and sent more nudes, saying that she is crazy for me.
I asked her to do a videocall to verify her identity, but she said she was unable to make videocalls for some silly reason. I then asked her for a WhatsApp number because I wanted to turn her or him over to the police. She asked me to provide my WhatsApp number. The truth is, I didn’t know if this was indeed a woman or a man pretending to be a woman as is often the case.
A few days later, I received a call by WhatsApp from a man pretending to be a police officer accusing me of trying to have sexual activity with a minor. They referred to the same Facebook Account and the chat, and said that the “child” was so angry when I molested her online that she broke her parents’ phone which she was using. The man pretending to be a police showed me an ID card of a child about 8 years. The photo sent via Facebook was that of a woman around 20 years old but was similar in facial features, color, and hair texture to the child on the ID card. The man then said they are willing to settle the matter peacefully for about 500 US dollars. Knowing what was going on, I requested two weeks to come up with the money. Then I went over to the police station and told them that I wanted to report a crime. When I started to explain to the police, they didn’t even bother looking at the messages. They explained that they get these reports too often, and that there is nothing they can do about it. The police said that the easiest way out is to simply block the person, because if I yield and act afraid, the cybercriminals would juice me.
I must say I was thoroughly disappointed. Crimes of this nature are no less terrible than coldblooded murders, and I thought that by bringing this criminal to justice, I was saving a lot of innocent souls. I was shocked that the police could not use the WhatsApp number to track and arrest this individual or gang. The police, nevertheless, was very suave in convincing me to just block and delete the cybercriminal since it is the easiest way out.
I came home and started to engage the criminal on WhatsApp again. Eventually, I asked him to provide a name and bank account number so I could deposit the ransom. He did. I took that information to the police and insisted again that they use the information to track and arrest these criminals. The police said that if they tried, they would get nowhere. They said they tried endless times but could not arrest anyone because these criminals use stolen sim cards, bank accounts with falsified information etc. I found that excuse hard to believe, but the police were suave and reassuring and convinced me to let the case rest once and for all.
This happened in Brazil, but unfortunately, police all over the world are having the same difficulty, or exhibit the same level of unwillingness to fight cybercrime. This shouldn’t be. The police should develop the tools, skills, and talent to hunt down these demons, drag them out of the hole they are hiding in, and charge them for this heinous crime which is no less evil than coldblooded murder or gunpoint robbery.