Sextortion is a form of sexual exploitation that employs non-physical forms of coercion to extort money or sexual favors from the victim. Sextortion refers to the broad category of sexual exploitation in which abuse of power is the means of coercion, as well as to the category of sexual exploitation in which threatened release of sexual images or information is the means of coercion.
As used to describe an abuse of power, sextortion is a form of corruption in which people entrusted with power – such as government officials, judges, educators, law enforcement personnel, and employers – seek to extort sexual favors in exchange for something within their authority to grant or withhold. Examples of such abuses of power include: government officials who request sexual favors to obtain licenses or permits, teachers who trade good grades for sex with students, and employers who make providing sexual favors a condition of obtaining a job.
Sextortion also refers to a form of blackmail in which sexual information or images are used to extort sexual favors from the victim. Social media and text messages are often the source of the sexual material and the threatened means of sharing it with others. An example of this type of sextortion is where people are extorted with a nude image of themselves they shared on the Internet through sexting. They are later coerced into performing sexual acts with the person doing the extorting or are coerced into posing or performing sexually on camera, thus producing hardcore pornography.
A video highlighting the dangers of sextortion has been released by the National Crime Agency in the UK to educate people, especially given the fact that blackmail of a sexual nature may cause humiliation to a sufficient extent to cause the victim to take their own life, in addition to other efforts to educate the public on the risks of sextortion.
Sextortion via the use of webcams is also a concern, especially for those who use webcams for flirting and cybersex. Often this involves a cybercriminal posing as someone else – such as an attractive person – initiating communication of a sexual nature with the victim (about 95% of victims are male). Often, the cybercriminal simply shows a pre-recorded video of a performer from a cybersex webcam site which they are sufficiently familiar with to message the victim at points in the video where the performer appears to be typing on the keyboard, to give the illusion to the victim that it is actually the performer in the video messaging them. The victim is then persuaded to undress in front of a webcam, and may also be persuaded to engage in sexual behaviour, such as masturbation. The video is recorded by the cybercriminal, who then reveals their true intent and demands money or other services (such as more explicit images of the victim, in cases of online predation), threatening to publicly release the video to video services like YouTube and send it to family members and friends of the victim if they do not comply. Sometimes threats to make false allegations of paedophilia against the victim are made as well. This is known as webcam blackmail.  An increase in webcam blackmails have been reported, and it affects both young and old, male and female alike. Webcam blackmail is also connected with webcam trolling.
Since early 2009, The Institute for Responsible Online and Cell-Phone Communication (iroc2.org) began warning the public about the trend of "Sextortion" via live events and websites including www.sextortion.org. This is a trend that grew based on the birth and growth of the trend known as "sexting" whereby compromising images and videos were being shared by individuals without a real understanding of the short and long term consequences of sharing "private' content on digital tools designed for sharing.
In 2009, the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ), in partnership with the Association of Women Judges in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Philippine Women Judges Association, and the Tanzania Women Judges Association, and with funding from the Government of the Netherlands, launched a three-year program on "Stopping the Abuse of Power through Sexual Exploitation: Naming, Shaming, and Ending Sextortion." Presentations on sextortion were made to judges attending the 2010 and 2012 Biennial World Conferences of the IAWJ and to NGOs attending the 2011 and 2012 meetings of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
There are also scientific studies describing the prevalence of sextortion in Europe, etc. in the Czech Republic (2017).
Incidents of sextortion have been prosecuted under various criminal statutes, including as extortion, bribery, breach of trust, corruption, sexual coercion, sexual exploitation, sexual assault, child pornography, and computer hacking and wiretapping.
- Anthony Stancl of Wisconsin, then 18, received 15 years in prison in February 2010 after he posed as a girl on Facebook to trick male high school classmates into sending him nude cell phone photos, which he then used to extort them for homosexual sex.
- Jonathan Vance of Auburn, Alabama was sentenced to 18 years in prison in April 2010 after sending threatening e-mails on Facebook and MySpace extorting nude photos from more than 50 women in three states.
- Luis Mijangos was sentenced to six years in prison in September 2011 for hacking into dozens of computers, stealing personal information and demanding naked images from female victims in exchange for not releasing the stolen information. Forty-four of the victims were under age 18.
- Isaac Baichu, a federal immigration officer in New York, was sentenced to 1 1⁄2 to 4 1⁄2 years in prison in July 2010 after demanding sex from a 22-year-old Colombian woman in exchange for a green card.
- Steve Ellis, an immigration adjudicator in Toronto, was sentenced to 18 months in jail in July 2010 after telling a South Korean woman he would approve her refugee claim in exchange for sex.
- Michael Ngilangwa, a secondary school teacher in Tanzania, was sentenced to pay a fine or serve one year in prison in June 2011 after demanding sexual favors from his student in exchange for favorable exam results.
- Christopher Patrick Gunn, 31, of Montgomery, Alabama was indicted for using fake Facebook profiles to extort nude photos and videos from underage girls in numerous states.
- In May 2010 the police of the Basque Country in Spain arrested a 24-year-old man accused of blackmailing a woman he met on an online chatroom and threatening to distribute nude photographs of her from her webcam.
- A video of the Chinese Communist Party official Lei Zhengfu having sex with a woman was a part of a sextortion plot by a criminal gang.
- In 2013, Daniel Perry committed suicide hours after falling victim to webcam blackmail.
- De la Cerna, Madrilena (April 15, 2012). "Sextortion". Cebu Daily News. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
- "How to curb sextortion, violence against women – Amaechi". Punch. Nigeria. July 2, 2012. Archived from the original on August 6, 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
'Sextortion is the currency of corruption and eats the fabric of society and it is in all sectors of the society,' [Justice Binta Nyako] said.
- "CSW Wraps up Second Week of Work". School Sisters of Notre Dame. March 9, 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
- "11th Biennial World Conference of the IAWJ, London 2012, Keeping Safe – Keeping Well" (PDF). Provincial Judges’ Journal. The Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges. 35 (1): 58. Summer 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
Sextortion is a form of sexual exploitation and corruption that occurs when people in positions of authority – whether government officials, judges, educators, law enforcement personnel, or employers – seek to extort sexual favours in exchange for something within their power to grant or withhold.[permanent dead link]
- Mayol, Ador Vincent; Matus, Carmel Loise (March 4, 2011). "Lady judges: 'End sextortion'". Cebu Daily News. Archived from the original on May 12, 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
When a boss asks an employee to have sex with him in exchange for a job promotion, that's 'sextortion,' a female magistrate said yesterday. So is a teacher seeking sexual favors from a student seeking better grades.
- Soyingbe, Anthonia (July 4, 2012). "Sextortion: Checkmating this new alias for bribe in Nigeria". Daily Independent. Nigeria. Archived from the original on December 24, 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
Sextortion ... is basically about an element of abuse of power by somebody entrusted with authority and somebody who is seeking either an advantage or justice from that person who holds the clout. And sadly, it is in all spheres of life – the judiciary, executive, legislator, media, police, army and indeed, every sector of the Nigerian life.
- Jundu, Hon. Fakihi A.R. (December 2, 2010). "ILO – Speech by Hon. Fakihi A. R. Jundu, Principal Judge". Judiciary.go.tz. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
Another global plight ... is the one dubbed 'Sextortion' … [t]hese harassers insist on sexual favours in exchange for benefits they can dispense because of their positions in hierarchies including getting or keeping a job, favourable grades, recommendations, credentials, projects, promotion, orders, and other types of opportunities.[permanent dead link]
- Ozler, Berk (February 16, 2012). "When it comes to female education, have we gotten it all backwards?". Blogs.worldbank.com. Archived from the original on February 10, 2013. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
Mary Hallward-Driemeier … quantifie[d] the stories we all heard working in Africa: running a small business as a woman is also treacherous business. Many say they had to exchange sex with a person of authority (person in charge of a permit, border police, etc.) or a supplier in order to be able to go about their business.
- "2012 State of the Field in Youth Economic Opportunities – A Guide for Programming, Policymaking, and Partnership Building" (PDF). Making Cents International. 2012. p. 84.
'Sextortion,' researched by Mary Hallward Driemeier, Lead Economist for Financial and Private Sector Development at the World Bank Group, is where sexual favors are traded instead of money for routine business dealings.[permanent dead link]
- Fatoorehchi, Cléo (February 27, 2011). "Time to Drag Sextortion into the Light". Inter Press Service. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
In their 2010 book 'Half the Sky', Pulitzer Prize-winners Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn write about a disturbing but not uncommon problem in Southern Africa – male teachers who trade good grades for sex with students. … There’s a word for this – 'sextortion'.
- Kujenya, Joke (June 28, 2012). "How randy judge killed five women, wife, by Justice Nyako". The Nation. Nigeria. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
It is no longer a hidden complaint how students complain about lecturers demanding for sex for them to get good grades. So, if these instances are something that have been with us, then sextortion is also an age-long problem within our society ...[permanent dead link]
- Raftree, Linda (September 13, 2011). "Barriers to girls' economic opportunities". The Ethnos Project. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
'Sextortion' ... refers to the sexual harassment that girls and women often face when trying to get a job, e.g., 'I'll give you a job but you must provide sexual favors if you want it.'
- "What Is Sextortion?". Child Refuge. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
Sextortion is basically a type of extortion with a twist. Instead of extorting money or material goods from a victim, a sextortionist will extract sexual favors from the victim by using intimidation, fear, and blackmail.[permanent dead link]
- "Feds: Online 'sextortion' of teens on the rise". Associated Press. August 24, 2010. Archived from the original on August 17, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-14.
A stranger said he had captured her image on the webcam and would post the pictures to her MySpace friends unless she posed for more explicit pictures and videos for him. On at least two occasions, the teen did what her blackmailer demanded. Finally, police and federal authorities became involved and indicted a 19-year-old Maryland man in June on charges of sexual exploitation. ... One federal affidavit includes a special term for the crime: sextortion.
- "'Sextortion': NCA releases awareness video". BBC News. 30 November 2016. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
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- "Miss Teen USA hacker pleads guilty to 'sextortion' threats". BBC News. BBC News Technology. 2013-11-13. Retrieved 2013-11-13.
- "Beware of Webcam Blackmail". GetSafeOnline.org. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
- Kopecký, Kamil; Szotkowski, René (May 2017). "Cyberbullying, cyber aggression and their impact on the victim – The teacher". Telematics and Informatics. 34 (2): 506–517. doi:10.1016/j.tele.2016.08.014. ISSN 0736-5853.
- "Sextortion Charges To Come Up Next Week". Los Angeles Times. April 5, 1950. Retrieved 2010-08-14.
- "Stopping the Abuse of Power through Sexual Exploitation: Naming, Shaming and Ending Sextortion – Toolkit" (PDF). International Association of Women Judges. 2012. p. 5. Retrieved 2012-10-05.[permanent dead link]
- "10th Biennial International Conference: 'Judicial Challenges in a Changing World'". International Association of Women Judges. Retrieved 2012-10-05.[permanent dead link]
- Gibb, Frances (May 31, 2012). "Attacks and threats: why judges need support". The Times. London. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
Judges discussed 'sextortion' a mix of sex and corruption where people in authority demand sexual favours for anything, Hale says, from immigration to prosecution decisions.
- "International forum encourages judges to 'mind the gap'". The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. May 31, 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-05.[permanent dead link]
- "Ending the Abuse of Power through Sexual Exploitation: Naming, Shaming, and Ending Sextortion. IAWJ Panel @UN CSW". Inter Press Service. February 23, 2011. Archived from the original on April 15, 2013. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
- Kopecký, Kamil (February 2017). "Online blackmail of Czech children focused on so-called "sextortion" (analysis of culprit and victim behaviors)". Telematics and Informatics. 34 (1): 11–19. doi:10.1016/j.tele.2016.04.004. ISSN 0736-5853.
- "After spate of suicides, China targets predatory student lending". Reuters. 2017-09-26. Retrieved 2019-01-14.
- Leibowitz, Barry (June 23, 2010). "Hacker Sex-tortion: FBI Alleges Man Blackmailed Women into Making Sex Videos". Associated Press. Retrieved 2010-08-14.
The U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles says 31-year-old Luis Mijangos hacked into computers to obtain personal data to extort sexually explicit videos, in exchange for keeping his victims' information private.
- Hickerson, Patrick (April 17, 2009). "Alabama predator sentenced to 18 years for Facebook extortion attempts: How he got access". The Birmingham News. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
Vance … pleaded guilty in January to several charges including enticing or coercing someone into illegal sexual activity and violating the interstate communications law by extorting something of value and threatening to ruin someone's reputation.[permanent dead link]
- Seibel, Jacqui; Johnson, Mike (February 4, 2009). "New Berlin student charged with blackmailing students into sex acts in Facebook deception". Journal Sentinel. Milwaukee. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
A criminal complaint filed today charges Stancl with the bomb threats plus repeated sexual assault of same child (at least three violations of first or second degree sexual assault), possession of child pornography, second and third degree sexual assaults and five counts of child enticement.
- Bernstein, Nina (April 14, 2010). "Immigration Officer Guilty in Sexual Coercion Case". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
A federal immigration officer who was caught on tape demanding sex in exchange for a green card pleaded guilty to ... felony charges of receiving a bribe and receiving a reward for official misconduct, and to misdemeanor charges of sexual misconduct, coercion and official misconduct.
- Kari, Shannon (July 29, 2010). "Sex scandal gets immigration judge 18-month jail sentence". National Post. Toronto. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
A former immigration adjudicator in Toronto who promised to approve the refugee claim of a South Korean woman in exchange for sex, has been sentenced to 18 months in jail. … Ellis, 50, was convicted this spring of breach of trust under the Criminal Code and of violating the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
- "Stopping the Abuse of Power for Purposes of Sexual Exploitation: Naming, Shaming, and Ending Sextortion – a Toolkit" (PDF). Iawj.org. Tanzania Women Judges Association. 2011. p. 14. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
… Michael Ngilangwa … was charged under Section 25 of the Prevention of Corruption Act No. 11 of 2007 for demanding … sexual intercourse as a condition for favouring [the complainant] in English and Divinity examination results and other preferential treatment. He was convicted and sentenced to pay a fine of Tshs. 500,000/= or serve a term of imprisonment for one year.[permanent dead link]
- Bernstein, Nina (July 23, 2010). "Immigration Officer Sentenced in Sex-Coercion Case". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
- "FBI — Montgomery Man Accused of Online Sextortion Plot Jailed on Federal Child Pornography Charges". Fbi.gov. Archived from the original on 2013-03-14. Retrieved 2012-04-29.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) ()
- Risling, Greg (September 1, 2011). "Luis Mijangos Sentenced To 6 Years For 'Sextortion'". Associated Press. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
Mijangos … pleaded guilty to one count each of computer hacking and wiretapping in March ….
- CNN Wire Staff. "Hacker gets 6 years in prison for 'sextortion' scheme". CNN. Cable News Network. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
- "Detenido por chantajear a una mujer con imágenes robadas de su webcam" (in Spanish). El Correo. May 25, 2010.
- "Buzzwords Feb. 17 性敲诈 sextortion." (Archive) Shanghai Daily. Retrieved on April 2, 2013.
- "Lei Zhengfu: China sacks 'sex tape' Chongqing official." BBC. November 23, 2012. Retrieved on April 2, 2013.
- Teenager's death sparks cyber-blackmailing probe
- Institute for Responsible Online and Cell-Phone Communication. www.sextortion.org
- Frederick S. Lane, Cybertraps for the Young, (Chicago: NTI Upstream, 2011)
- Gross, Doug. "Police: Naked scammers seduce, blackmail men on Web." CNN. February 18, 2013.
- "Cyber Alerts for Parents & Kids Tip #2: Beware of ‘Sextortion’." (Archive) Federal Bureau of Investigation. February 10, 2012.
- "A Case of ‘Sextortion’ Cons Like ‘Bieber Ruse’ Targeted Minor Girls." (Archive) Federal Bureau of Investigation. February 5, 2013.
- Morris, Kevin. "Man strips on camera for "girlfriend," gets blackmailed." The Daily Dot. May 6, 2013.
- "Kids blackmailed into online Sex." CNN. September 20, 2013.
- Vives, Ruben. "Glendale man sentenced to 5 years in 'sextortion' case." Los Angeles Times. December 9, 2013.
- "Sextortion scam email campaign has netted $143k in Bitcoin." Thexyz. November 13 2018 .