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|Part of the common law series|
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|Offence against the person|
|Crimes against property|
|Crimes against justice|
|Defences to liability|
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Webcam blackmail is a crime where a fraudster lures a victim into taking off their clothes - sometimes performing sexual acts - in front of their webcam allowing them to record a video. The fraudster will then make a threat to publish this video and send the link to everyone in their contacts list unless money is paid. Sometimes threats of false allegations of paedophilia against the victim are made as well.
A striking increase in webcam blackmails have been reported, and it affects both young and old, male and female alike.
It is possible for a scammer to record any webcam sessions he has with the victim using freely available software. The scammers can use stolen webcam footage as a "fake webcam", so even if the person appears on webcam, it may not really be them. To be 100% sure they are live and on the webcam, get them to hold up a copy of that day's newspaper, point their webcam at the chat window on their monitor or other actions that could not have been prerecorded. This will only show that the person is physically on the other end of a webcam at that point in time. It is not an indicator on whether or not the person is a scammer.
Some romance scammers have been known to threaten people with exposing any photographs or webcam sessions shared with them once they realize they have been found out as scammers. They turn to blackmail in an attempt to take even more money off the person. In most cases, the blackmail is no more than a bluff, but a particularly malicious scammer could potentially send the evidence to others.
Scammers often upload a video to sites like YouTube, but mark it as private and send the link to the victim. They then threaten to make it public unless the money is sent. If they do, reporting it to the site it is hosted on as inappropriate will result in its removal. Scammers include the person's name and details in the video description, so anyone scammed in this way should set up Google alerts with their details to help in locating any further instances that may appear at a future date.
The victims of webcam scams are advised not to confront their scammer and to end all contact with them. A threat becomes worthless if it falls on deaf ears. Filters can be placed on email accounts to block any emails sent by them. The scammer should then be removed and blocked from the person's social networking accounts and the privacy setting changed to prevent them from being able to access the contact list. Reporting the crime to the site where the person originally met the scammer in order to have their account removed can be counterproductive, as they will rejoin with a new name and photos, making any details posted to warn others worthless.
The crime can be reported to the police. However, since the perpetrators are very often in another country, there is very little that can be done due to jurisdictional issues. The current mechanisms for international co-operation between police are very limited. Until the differences that separate international law enforcers are bridged, there will be no easy way to deal with this crime.
There are online communities where those who have been scammed in this way share experiences as well as the details of their scammer in an attempt to warn others.
See also 
- Emotional blackmail
- Loan shark
- Nuclear blackmail
- FBI Files on Elvis Presley
- Scam Survivors "Online blackmail"
- Video: "SINGAPORE - Police busted an online syndicate that blackmail victims nude pictures - 28.02.2012"
- "Blackmail". Encyclopedia Americana. 1920.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Blackmail". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.