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Sextortion Blackmail Gangs Thriving in the Philippines

Sextortion Blackmail Gangs Thriving in the Philippines

Sextortion is an epidemic on the rise in the Philippines and it is seriously affecting the lives of thousands of people around the world. The Philippines is listed as the scammers’ location (on account of the money transfer destination) in a great percentage of the sextortion cases.

Taking pictures and videos of sexual content and sharing them with someone else is considered (among some people) a normal behavior between adults nowadays. Almost everyone has access to a smartphone or a webcam, and some people think that as long as the situation is given in a context of mutual consent between adults, there is nothing to worry about.

“The main problem with engaging in sexual conduct with someone online is that you never know who is watching or recording,” says William Carter, Director of Private Investigations at Philippine PI. There are many ways in which sharing sexual content leads to serious trouble, but the most likely is that people may find themselves in the unpleasant situation of being a victim of blackmail or extortion.

The sextortionists are good manipulators. They will engage in conversation and eventually lure their victims into sending photos or film themselves on a webcam. The online criminals use stolen pictures and pre-recorded clips of attractive women, who are in most cases completely unaware of what their image or videos are being used for. This is done to gain the victim’s trust.  Once the victim agrees to share his or her own content, it is already too late. What happens next is not nice.

The criminals threaten to release the sex clips or images publicly and to the victim’s online contacts, friends and even co-workers unless they are paid cash. Many of the victims are young people who fear their careers and life will be ruined. Other victims are senior citizens that fear the reaction of their families. Regardless of the case, most victims feel too embarrassed to report the incident to the police and only look for assistance from a private investigator until after they have been threatened. Some of the cases have ended in real tragedies like suicide. Due to the amount of cases unreported and to the tactics used to hide and erase the tracks, may of the criminals remain free.

Randomly adding people to your Facebook or other social media accounts can be very dangerous. Accepting friend requests from strangers is already risky enough, but if in addition to that we agree to share something that we would not like to be public we are handing the criminals with the tools and material they need in order to take advantage.

Do not accept invitations from strangers. If you are actively dating a Filipina online, make sure you hire a reputable private investigator to conduct a dating background check in the Philippines to make sure the person you are contacting is who she claims to be. Refrain from sharing personal sexual content even if you think this person is trustworthy, especially if you don’t want other people to see this content.

Share less online to keep you and your family safe.  Any information you share on the internet, can and often will be used against you, so be smart, and respect your privacy.

C. Wright
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