back to article UK cops spot webcam 'sextortion' plots: How vics can hit stop

The NCA has said that "at least four young men have taken their own lives" after being targeted by financially motivated webcam blackmailers, while UK police forces are sharing stats and tips in a campaign to combat the rising problem. Police say they've recorded 864 cases of webcam blackmail cases so far in 2016, more than …

  1. adam payne Silver badge

    "Victims in cases reported to the NCA by local police forces were aged between 14 and 82"

    82 yikes

    Why would anyone do these things in in front of a webcam or camera? you have no idea where the images are going to end up.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      "Why would anyone do these things in in front of a webcam or camera? you have no idea where the images are going to end up."

      For the same reason you'll ignore wearing a condom when you're horny as hell and you don't want to pass up a good opportunity to get your end away. You're never thinking that you could have a knock at the door in 9 months time with a lady holding the baby you helped create.

      1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
        WTF?

        Why

        "Why would anyone do these things in in front of a webcam or camera? you have no idea where the images are going to end up."

        Remember:

        1. Half the population is of below median intelligence.

        2. Any idiot can work a camera.

        3. Stupid is as stupid does.

        Those three things are a powerful combination.

        1. PatientOne

          Re: Why

          1. Half the population is of below median intelligence.

          Nope. I know you're referring to the median rather than average, but as IQ is an arbitary rating (100 is the average score, but what we rate as an IQ of 100 isn't the same as it was 100 years ago). It's a whole number, so there will be a quantity of people who will have that median score.

          Hence less than half will be below, and of those, most will be close enough as to make little noticable difference.

          You also assume that those falling for such a scam are below the median intelligence: Again not true. Very intelligent people can be fooled into doing something stupid. Paul Daniels, who you may or may not remember, was fooled into voicing support for elephants that get their trunks stuck where the sun don't shine. He most certainly wasn't below median intelligence, and his whole career was built on misdirection, but that didn't protect him from being tricked. Now consider people are more relaxed when they feel they're in private...

          1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

            Re: Why

            @PatientOne

            Half the population is of below median intelligence.

            This statement is true by definition of median. No one before mentioned IQ or that IQ is a suitable measure for intelligence. Whether the statement is relevant to the "powerful combination" is an entirely different question though.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Why

              Almost. Pedantically it depends on whether the population is odd or even. The number of people is an integer. You are only right if it is an even integer.

              1. tony2heads
                Joke

                Re: Why

                The population is usually irrational and complex - never integer and (when Boolean) TRUE

            2. PatientOne

              Re: Why

              @ Evil Auditor

              <pedant>

              By strict definition and use, it is still incorrect to say half (50%) will be blow median as median indicates the point where there is equal chance of being above or below that point: Not a 50% chance. As I said: There will be people ON the median point who are therefor neither above nor below it therefor less than 50% will be either above or below.

              </pedant>

              IQ is the most commonly used means of determining relative intelligence of subjects meaning it's simply a convenient, easily understood concept for purpose of illustration.

              @ Naselus

              True, I did imply he was very intelligent, and I cannot support that as a claim, other than to point out he started poor and built his career through hard work, a little luck and a lot of showmanship and that does take intelligence. So perhaps settle at 'not stupid' and certainly above the median?

          2. Naselus Silver badge

            Re: Why

            ... Of all the possible examples of someone 'very intelligent', you picked Paul Daniels? Really? Being a famous magician is not exactly a job description which requires a touch of genius.

            1. bobajob12 Bronze badge

              Re: Why

              sed 's/Paul Daniels/James Randi/g'

              Randi (aka the Amazing Randi) really does have a razor sharp mind attuned to deception. And yet he lived for years with a guy who was not who he said he was. People can be funny like that.

          3. dan1980

            Re: Why

            "Half the population is of below median intelligence."

            Maybe so (or not), but the real problem is that far too many are f--king scum.

            Kruger-Dunning etc, but I consider myself to be possessed of a decent Q of I. BUT, while I am thankful for that blessing, I am much more thankful that I am not a sociopath - or even a selfish bastard.

            Of course, If I was a sociopath then presumably I wouldn't feel bad about it. But still . . .

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Or you just wanted some company and were befriended by a stranger who earned your trust...

      3. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        " You're never thinking that you could have a knock at the door in 9 months time with a lady holding the baby you helped create."

        What? You mean I could have avoided being involved in all that morning sickness stuff, weird food demands, many visits to the hospital, etc, etc?

        Doesn't sound so bad!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Why would anyone do these things in in front of a webcam or camera?"

      Because the other 99 times they did it, there wasn't an extortionist at the other end and it was fun!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Why would anyone do these things in in front of a webcam or camera? you have no idea where the images are going to end up."

      Because they are too niave and stupid to be allowed uncontrolled access to the internet for their own protection.

      Anyone who says that being presented by a sexual situation completely removes their self control are saying rapists are victims and the deliberate spreading of STDs is just their hormones so it's okay. If you actually loose control when aroused then you are a liability to yourself and everyone else and should be locked up

      This is just more of the same wrong thinking as the ex-partner photo sharing law, there are no victims here only willing participants who think everyone else should pay for their lack of self control and stupidity. Well I want to know why they are not being arrested for exposing themselves we already have laws for that and it would solve the problem of the police being tied up babysitting these freaks

      Sry, no excuse for this so no sympathy whatsoever

      1. dan1980

        @AC

        "This is just more of the same wrong thinking as the ex-partner photo sharing law, there are no victims here only willing participants who think everyone else should pay for their lack of self control and stupidity."

        You say 'stupidity', I say 'trust'.

        Sometimes when you trust someone, that turns out to have negative consequences. The question is whether trusting that person was a was a reasonably good choice at the time. Relationships of whatever type* require a certain level of trust. If you were in a committed relationship with someone and lived together then is it really 'stupidity' and a 'lack of self control' if, due to you both being away from each other frequently (conflicting work schedules, for example) you occasionally keep the fires going with some 'intimate' webcam sessions?

        This is not something I do but then I am not in that situation.

        I'm not suggesting that everyone who has had their intimate shots/videos disseminated by ex-partners is in such a situation but you seem unwilling to accept that exchanging intimate images/videos with someone could ever be anything but 'stupidity'.

        Part of trust, is, after all allowing someone else a measure of control over you - your happiness, your belongings, your secrets. Of course some people will break that trust, but that doesn't mean you should never give it.

        * - This includes not just long-term relationships but more casual ones as well.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          sorry no, there are no excuses

          First off the idea of "keeping the fires going" is just wrong, sex with a partner you have not seen for a time is much better than the regular kind and well worth waiting for.

          Whilst it is true that males can be aroused by what they see, it is an impersonal thing and nothing to do with an adult loving relationship, which if you were unaware, is about being with the whole person you love.

          To my understanding many women find the idea of being photographed naked titillating where as males are proscribed by law from exposing themselves because a minority called perverts are aroused by it. As ever with laws, they are made for the minority and everyone else has to be careful to avoid being grouped with the "perverts" ever after. I say to my understanding but to be honest I would expect the majority of adults to agree that what I have posted above contains no revelations i.e.

          1. You are not special, the rules do apply to you too

          2. "Just sex" relationships are unsatisfying over time

          3. Think before you act and accept the consequencies with grace

          4. There are no free lunches of any kind, beware those that disagree

          5. If you go wrong then learn from your mistakes

          So here we have some people who were quite willing to allow themselves to be recorded doing something they would not like their friends to see, they did it knowing their could be no trust or control of any kind but they didnt care until it was too late. This I would not call adult behaviour, I would call it irresponsible and dangerous, the other person may have been a minor for all they know or care.

          So like the ex-partner photosharing where a partner clearly liked the idea of being photgraphed at the time but later wanted to recover control of the image. This is nothing to do with trust but rather attempting control after the fact, the equivilent of a male demanding his sperm back and any baby aborted.

          In both cases they were quite willing to release control but then demand it back once they realised the consequencies of their actions.

          Now if instead both had considered the consequencies first before releasing control then there would not be any problem. Instead they insist that it is someone else's fault and demand new laws and police time be wasted because they acted without any thought whatsoever.

          Now personally I would prefer to just get on with life without having to listen to some minority bitching about not wanting to deal with the consequencies of their own actions. They have no valid excuse for their actions, they just didn't care until it was too late and now I have to hear how unfair it all is.

          Well fair is exactly what it is, if you do not think first they you live with the consequencies.

          So get a grip and stopping being a child, If you are not an adult then you clearly need adult supervision, again this is nothing new or requires new laws or redirection of police time.

          1. Jez Burns

            Re: sorry no, there are no excuses

            Who has suggested new laws? You might find some covering blackmail and extortion if you take a look at the statute books. Pompous moralising and lack of compassion for victims of these crimes (who themselves have engaged in nothing illegal) loses even more of its weight when coming from a position of anonymity - why don't you own your comments? Seems there may be a degree of projection or repressed guilt here..

      2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        really

        This is directed at the AC way up there about 6 posts who said , amongst other things:

        "completely removes their self control are saying rapists are victims and the deliberate spreading of STDs is just their hormones so it's okay"

        and also

        "This is just more of the same wrong thinking as the ex-partner photo sharing law,"

        and also

        "police being tied up babysitting these freaks"

        and also

        "Sry, no excuse for this so no sympathy whatsoever"

        jeeeeeeeeezus! are we having the same conversation? did you read the same article? or one about serial killers on grindr? What they are doing is not illegal. Possibly ill advised if they arnt certain about their partner.

        I was wondering what kind of comments would come up when i was reading the article and was please to find only about 25% were "why would you do this" . but yours takes the cake!

        My own comment was going to be "It will be an uphill battle to raise awareeness of this type of fraud , much more than the usual bank details phishing"

        ...and with attitudes like yours you can see why. Now get back to the Daily Mail to post your "string em up!" comments

    4. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge

      A couple of thoughts spring to mind.

      The first is simply that the elderly are often easier to fool, especially when it comes to confusing them with modern technology, add to this the fact that the elderly are often alone and in need of friendship, maybe housebound, sadly all easily exploitable attributes.

      The other more, maybe unpalatable thought, is that sexual activity and attraction doesn't end at 38 when you dump your first sprog. Although tricky a full, rich and varied sex life can be enjoyed in a house full of teenage kids. Trust me, you just have to pick your moment when you both get the toys and uniforms out! Back on track, people often continue sexual activity into their late 70s and beyond. People can become aroused by anything and anyone, just because you may not be aroused or be able to be aroused for the purposes of extortion, by someone of advanced age doesn't mean others aren't.

      Most people as they get older are flattered by any kind of attention from the opposite or same sex, this can be played a upon in order to extract favours and money.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time for rent-a-perve

    I think we really need a service where you can just hook up such a request to someone who really needs to have his, umm, "message" out. That way, the criminal doesn't end up with much to blackmail.

    Or use a paper bag :).

    1. frank ly Silver badge
      Gimp

      Re: Time for rent-a-perve

      I always use a leather bag. My webcam friends love it.

  3. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Under-reporting

    Maybe such sextortion threats would be less of a problem if it were not for the gov going on anti-sex and anti-porn crusades and making legal acts between consenting adults into an illegal possession once you take an image?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Try stopping making people feel ashamed of sex and their bodies.

    There is nothing new, it all happens on a daily basis somewhere by some people, it's what humans do.

    Blocking access to sexual videos and the like is part of the problem.

    The nanny state was bad enough, now we have the religious nanny state.

    Why do we let numpties who "believe" the whole universe was created for them by their particular deity make decisions that affect our lives when they patently can't even grasp basic reality.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Try stopping making people feel ashamed of sex and their bodies.

      5 downvotes? I thought all the Puritans had moved to America.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Try stopping making people feel ashamed of sex and their bodies.

        No, they are still among us.

        Look around, you might see the hidden signs...

        Or rather blatant ones waved happily from the walls of Westminster.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice, let's blame the victim

    > Why would anyone do these things

    Because people are entirely within their rights to expose themselves in front of a camera if that's what they want to do, and they should be able to do so without criminals abusing their trust and taking advantage of them.

    As for your tired cliché about half of us being stupid (which always seems to magically exclude the poster), if you think you're immune to confidence tricks, you may want to think again: that's the same techniques and principles used by the companies that sold you the car you drive, the clothes you wear, the beer you drink, the guns you shoot, the soap you use¹, etc.

    ¹ Hopefully not all at the same time.

    1. It wasnt me

      Re: Nice, let's blame the victim

      What on earth are you talking about? No-one have ever threatened to tell my mum what soap I use unless I give them £500.

      There is a very clearly clear line that needs crossing and as the OP observed, it takes a certain (immense?) amount of stupidity to get there.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nice, let's blame the victim

        It doesn't take stupidity, it takes gullibility. It can easily be fuelled by loneliness, frustration, horniness or just plain being human.

        These things work by an attractive young lady being very friendly. They offer to let you watch them. They're in it for the long game. They set about winning your trust first. If you got a message saying "show us your dick" most blokes would ignore it (OK, perhaps not all, maybe stupid happens). They can be flirty, they can be "interested in you", then they can send you pictures before arranging to talk and eventually cam each other.

        If you've never been approached by an attractive women on the Internet then you're probably not using it much.

        There are also lots sites where you can go to "meet" people who want to play sexually in a cyber world. There's no shortage of exhibitionists and a fair number are female. Even in non sexual sites I've had a number of cases where I've made some nice comment to a woman a few messages later a picture arrives. Carry on being nice and a sexier picture arrives, un-asked for. A lot of women assume men would like one. (OK lots of men assume that women would like a dick pic, in this case they are usually wrong). Most such cases will not have evil intent.

        The same is true in the real world. Hang around in hotels and you'll occasionally get chatted up. What they want can vary from someone to talk to through to ... well I'm sure you can guess. Now it might be they just want a good time, might be they want you to sign them into the hotel's night club, or buy them drinks and dinner. It might be they're after a client. But you also here case of guys ending up being chatted up, seduced and the next thing they know they're coming too to discover that at some point in the proceedings they've been drugged and robbed. I remember in one case reading a case of a bloke waking up to find himself in an ice bath with instructions to call for urgent medical assistance because he'd had his kidney's stolen.

        1. Naselus Silver badge

          Re: Nice, let's blame the victim

          "I remember in one case reading a case of a bloke waking up to find himself in an ice bath with instructions to call for urgent medical assistance because he'd had his kidney's stolen."

          Speaking of gullibility...

          http://www.snopes.com/horrors/robbery/kidney.asp

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Nice, let's blame the victim

            > Speaking of gullibility...

            OK, my bad as they say. I seem to have remembered reading it from fairly reputable news organisation, if such things exist.

            Thefts of a more normal kind aren't that uncommon.

            Oh and women get stung too, it isn't just men who are gullible in the face of an attractive play mate.

        2. regprentice

          Re: Nice, let's blame the victim

          'if you've never been approached by an attractive women on the Internet then you're probably not using it much.'

          Nope. Not once. And ive been one handedly shuffling my way across the net since the mid 90s.

        3. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Alien Doctor 1.1

    I have no social media accounts, use disposable email for competitions and shopping, specific mail addys for fora and any email in my non-ISP based account is either from friends and family or ignored and promptly deleted without opening.

    That may be OTT or a long-winded way of doing things but my kit has remained free of nasties for a decade and a half.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here's a different approach ...

    why not flood the internet with porn performers who don't give a toss about being blackmailed.

    While the scammers are being strung along by them, innocent folk go unscammed ....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Here's a different approach ...

      How about normalizing bodily functions like adult masturbation? Even as someone who manages half a dozen wanks a day, and whose sig other (and probably mother) is well aware of my porn consumption, I would probably want to pay up rather than have my friends and family "exposed" in this way. But if someone threatened to publish a toilet-cam video of me opening my bowels, although I wouldn't like it, I don't think I'd pay up. I'm sure Bonobos have the right idea, it's just natural stuff that everybody does. Probably won't go as far as shagging my daughter to say hello, but it might help if we could all accept nakedness, masturbation and consensual sex as normal components of humanity.

      1. bobajob12 Bronze badge
        Coat

        Re: Here's a different approach ...

        Comment typed with your left hand, I assume?

  8. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Quote from the video

    "Because they are in a different country they feel they are out of reach. But I have to say that isn't the case."

    I am curious. How many foreign sextortionists have been convicted targeting for UK citizens?

    1. Phil Endecott Silver badge

      Re: Quote from the video

      "I am curious. How many foreign sextortionists have been convicted targeting for UK citizens?"

      Maybe some; according to http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38150313 :

      "Last year more than 40 arrests were made in the Philippines in relation to sextortion and there is one ongoing international prosecution connected to one of the suicides reported this year."

  9. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    report it to police, who'll then do their dammnedist to pin something, anything, on you.

  10. TwistUrCapBack

    "I remember in one case reading a case of a bloke waking up to find himself in an ice bath with instructions to call for urgent medical assistance because he'd had his kidney's stolen."

    That's an urban myth

    http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/horrors/a/kidney_thieves.htm

  11. Slx

    This really can only be tackled by education, education and more education.

    If you're using a webcam to communicate with anyone, but particularly with a stranger online, anything you present to that camera is at risk of being published or used against you.

    On the other side of it, maybe we will just have to ensure nobody ever feels totally humiliated if something like this does happen. Yes, it's embarrassing but it shouldn't be life-endingly embarrassing.

    Strong supports need to be there emotionally but also strong supports in terms of an IT-savvy crack squad who can ensure that damage limitation is done i.e. help with getting as much of the offending media removed from sites as possible.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Really??

    So, people are convinced by strangers on the web to do adult webcam acts, and then are so shocked by resulting extortion that they kill themselves? I don't trust people I know, that much. Strangers on the web? #No

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wasn't this on an episode of "Black Mirror" just last month?

  14. Bibbit
    Thumb Up

    Worth the risk

    So I just ignore this gorgeous LA beach babe who has just sent me a friend request? I reckon I should risk it; if I end up getting blackmailed I can use the proceeds of the recent Nigerian lottery win I have been told I have won to buy them off. I will get use that vIAgrA i ORDereD toO.

  15. e^iπ+1=0

    The beeb had a good story about this kind of extortion a few weeks ago.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-37735369

    Worth noting that the scammers know the scripts of the recording they play to the victim by heart, and type, never speak.

    Currently.

  16. Mandoscottie

    I just cant get my bulbous head round this story, surely a good prevention is not to get your cock out over a webcam to begin with?

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