The Anatomy of Sextortion; A Real Case Study
In 2014, we wrote an article called “The Anatomy Of A Capping” that can be located here: https://www.thewhitehatter.ca/single-post/2014/07/08/The-Anatomy-of-Capping This article outlined the methods that some “cappers” were using to lure a teen into sending nudes that would then be used as a weapon to extort their target for more pictures or money. With the changes in technology comes changes in the methods that some online offenders are using to entrap their targets for the purpose of extortion, or what we call “sextortion.”
Over the past two months, we have had three separate teens and two young adults, of different genders, connect with us seeking help and guidance given that they fell prey to an online “live streaming” sextortion incident. In all five incidents, there were several similarities:
All were cold contacted via Facebook.
All requested their intended target to video chat via Google Hangouts. This tactic allows the offender to covertly record all interactions that will take place and then use later to extort their target.
All offending Facebook pages were well designed, looked extremely real, and all used stock photos for any pictures posted on their page.
In all cases, the offender used poor English/grammar that they would deflect from, given that they said English was their second language.
All used a pre-recorded high-def video recording of a naked female/male playing with their genitalia. In one case, they actually used a live female accomplice.
All stated that their mic was broken and could only communicate via text during the live streaming event on Google Hangouts. This is a counter measure used by these predators to help hide the fact that the intended target is actually watching a recording, and not an actual live broadcast.
In every case, the offender provided a recording or a still shot of their intended target’s sexualized behaviour as proof that they possessed the material.
Often, when the target blocks the offending Facebook page, the offender used another page to reconnect to apply more pressure on their target to provide more pictures, videos, or money.
All the creators of these phishing Facebook pages, after a deeper open source investigation, appear to reside in countries located on the eastern continent of Africa, such as Somalia.
One of the young adults, an 18 year old male, with the permission of his parents, has provided us with the Facebook message stream that they received and was used to lure them into live streaming sexual acts. These sexual acts were then recorded and used to extort the young man. With this teen’s permission, we now share this Facebook message stream with our followers in the hope that the parents who follow us will share it with their teens. We must warn you that there is use of some sexually explicit language in the below-noted dialogue. Knowledge and the understanding and application of that knowledge is power. We hope this posting will provide real information that can be used to educate our kids on this prevalent threat. We have blurred any personal information that could identify the teen who provided us with this information.
In all five incidents, we were able to assist the victims and their families to cope with this extortion attempt as best we could. Our advice included:
Screen capture all messages
Do not send any more pictures, videos, or money. If you do, the offender will now know they have a good target and will continue to demand more pictures or more money.
Once all messages have been screen captured, delete and block the sender. If the offender attempts to reconnect via a second Facebook page, which many do, screen capture and block it as well.
Notify the police and bring it to their attention so that there is an official record of this crime. To be very honest, given where these offenders appear to live in the world, there is likely not much the police can do, BUT sometimes they can. This will also help to shield a target if they are under 18 years old (Canada) and the video does appear online. Without context, such a video could trigger a child porn investigation in some very rare occasions. A police report will provide that context.
Once you have notified the police, report the offender’s Facebook page to Facebook as a fake account.
Again, in all five cases that we assisted in, and after taking the above-noted defensive counter measures, none of the videos to date have been reposted online to the targets’ friends, families, or employers as was threatened by the offender. It is our belief that given the large number of targets that actually do send more pictures, videos, or money, these offenders will not spend a lot of time on those who don’t, and therefore will move on to their next target. However, one must recognize the fact that there is always a risk that these videos will get reposted to friends, family, employers, or some of the revenge porn sites that will pay for such videos.
If the offender does post the video to a revenge porn site, it will not likely be searchable unless they have tagged it with the target’s name. This is one reason why we also recommend that a victim of this crime create a “Google Alert” https://www.google.ca/alerts using the name they use on Facebook. If the offender did post your video on the surface web (not the deep web, given that Google doesn’t access the deep web) with your name, then Google will send you an alert/notification with a link. If the link does lead to a posting of the video, you can now connect with the site where it is posted and request that it be taken down given that it is child pornography (if under the age of 18 in Canada) or, if over the age of 18, request that it be taken down under the Digital Media Copyright Act (DMCA). We have helped families with both of these processes.
The best defence to not falling prey to these offenders is not to send nude pictures online or live stream sexual acts. Having said this, these offenders are really good at what they do, and even the most educated online teen or adult can fall prey to their tactics.
The White Hatter Team