Why every woman needs to know about sextortion

Mar 24, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. ET
Image: BDLM/Cultura/Getty Images

What begins as a search for love online, a desire to connect with like-minded people or the chance to have some no-strings fun can quickly lead to embarrassment, harassment and blackmail.

Heard of "sextortion?" It's extortion cases involving sex videos, and it's on the rise. So just another thing for women to worry about, then.

Richmond Mounties in Canada have warned the public about the danger of befriending people online and then being persuaded to perform an intimate act that is streamed over a webcam or mobile device.

"Unbeknownst to the victim, the interaction is secretly recorded," Richmond RCMP Acting Corporal Dennis Hwang said in a press release. "The suspect then threatens to release the video online unless they are paid by the victim."

It's vital that the public is aware of this crime, said RCMP Serious Crimes Unit Const. Quinn Provost. "At the same time, it is important that any victims have a support network available. Feelings of hopelessness and shame are common for victims of this type of crime," he said. "It is important to be able to speak to someone about the incident — whether it is a parent, sibling, friend, mental health professional or crisis worker."

By the way, it's not only women who are victims of sextortion. In 2014 there was a rise in the number of cases in the U.K. targeting men, who were lured into video sex chats, then blackmailed. One man faced a demand for £3,000 from offenders who threatened to email images to his girlfriend and his daughter.

If you've been a victim of sextortion, call Crime Stoppers at 0800 555 111.

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