'Sextortion': the crime authorities are warning of that involves blackmail and coercion

13 June 2022, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Rottweil: An unread message and the writing Chats can be seen on the display of a smartphone in the application App WhatsApp. Photo: Silas Stein/ (Photo by Silas Stein/picture alliance via Getty Images)

The Scottsdale Police Department is warning of "sextortion" blackmail and coercion, saying it is a criminal offense and someone can get in trouble for it. 

"Sextortion involves blackmail or coercion with the purpose of extorting sexually explicit images, messages, money or sexual favors from another person online. In order to blackmail effectively, the perpetrator uses personal information or compromising images that the victim has previously sent to them or that they have found themselves, through hacking or the victim previously sharing content online," the department said in a social media post.  

The perpetrator may threaten to send photos, videos or messages to friends, family or coworkers unless they send more sexual content or give them money.

The department is offering tips to potential victims:

  • Remember you are not alone as thousands are victimized by this scam.
  • Stop all interaction with the extortionist and do not be embarrassed or afraid to contact law enforcement.
  • If a profile seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • If a profile has zero posts this is a sign of a fraudulent account.
  • Never send sexually explicit pictures of yourself to anyone, no matter who they are or who they say they are. Never send anything in return when you are sent explicit images.
  • Check your privacy settings, set it to private and limit the information you share.
  • Be aware of your friend's list. Don’t accept friend requests from anyone you do not know.
  • Do not provide any details about your life, address, school, family, or friends as they will use this information later while trying to extort you.

If you fall victim to this type of crime, call Scottsdale Police at 480-312-5000. Authorities say to save the evidence to aid in prosecution.