An eSafety expert has explained how to protect yourself from online criminals and avoid sexual extortion.
Sexual extortion or ‘sextortion’ is a form of blackmail where someone threatens to share a nude or sexual image or video of you unless you give in to their demands.
It’s becoming an increasingly significant issue sweeping the nation.
From June to December 2022, more than 500 Australian bank, financial services and digital currency accounts linked to offshore sexual exploitation were shut down under an AFP-led operation.
Similar action is pending against more than 1,000 financial services facilitating money out of the country.
LADbible recently sat down with Toby Dagg, Acting Chief Operating Officer at eSafety, who advises keeping yourself safe regarding online blackmailers.
Dagg revealed that ‘sexual extortion predominantly affects young men’, but an effective way to avoid getting trapped is not to engage at all.
“Once they have you, once they know you have the bank, they’ll keep coming back. So our advice always is never engage,” he said.
Dagg explained that these criminals target people through dating sites, social media and gaming apps.
They usually pretend to be an attractive person looking for sex to trick people into sending explicit content.
However, a good rule of thumb when spotting these blackmailers is to note that if it’s too good to be true, it usually is.
“How many times have you been randomly messaged by someone who is legit asking you for sex? It doesn’t happen,” he said.
He added: “Even if there’s a risk of it not being true, don’t engage.”
Dagg said that if you’re suspicious, take the account’s profile picture and run it through Google reverse image search.
He also suggested looking at the profile pic and observing the background.
“If there’s no background detail and it’s just a head, then it’s probably the product of generative AI,” Dagg said.
Additionally, take note of the language and how this person speaks online to determine if they're legitimate.
“If it sounds like a script, it is a script, and we know that they tend to originate from the Philippines and from West Africa.
"This is a global enterprise, and you’re not the only victim, there’s thousands around the world every day,” he continued.
But even if you find yourself in this predicament, Dagg encourages you to report it no matter the circumstance.
“The embarrassment that you might feel or the shame that you might feel is transitory compared with the power you get back from engaging someone who can help,” he explained.
Twenty-eight per cent of people who reported having been abused or extorted online said it greatly impacted their health and well-being.
While 16 per cent said it took a toll on their physical health.
“The thing that really causes me great concern is the fact that we’ve seen cases that young people have suicided as a result of these threats. It’s tragic, it’s heartbreaking,” he said.
He added: “Parents what you should be saying to young people is, ‘This happens at one o’clock in the morning, two o’clock in the morning, walk down the hall and wake us up because there is nothing we can’t solve together. You don’t have to bear this alone.”
If you would like to find out more information about online safety, head here.Featured Image Credit: LADbible