Thane Police's guide to stay safe from 'online sextortion'

The COVID-19 pandemic made our lives digitised like never before. Almost everyone is dependent on the internet for every small thing. Those working from home cannot do without WiFi, and gone are the days of standing in queues to pay bills, that too is done online these days. And, over the past few months, this has led to a rise in cyber crime. Many innocent people have fallen prey to some kind of online fraud. The latest one is 'online sextortion'.

Most of the sextortion campaigns use the same modus operandi, with scammers sending emails to users claiming they recorded the user during private, intimate moments, and threaten to expose them to the public unless the victim pays money to the attacker.

Taking to Twitter, Thane City Police shared guidelines to stay safe from 'online sextortion'.

"Sextortion is an emerging form of online abuse sextortion occurs when a cyber criminal reaches out victim online through dating app social media channels etc., initially intimate video chats and lures them to pose nude in front of the camera and record the same to

blackmail the victim Sextortion attempts to harass embarrass and blackmail for financial gains," Thane City Police said in a statement.

Here's Thane Police's guide to stay safe from 'online sextortion':

Modus Operandi:

1. Sextortion through messaging apps: Scammers send messages to victims luring them for video/audio chat. The victim pays for the service and may pose nude in video call which the scammer records or take a screenshot. The victim is then blackmailed by scammers leading to sextortion.

2. Sextortion through dating apps: Scammers open fake accounts on dating apps, victims thinking the account to be genuine starts chatting/video calling and may pose nude in front of the scammer, who records his/her videos and takes pictures leading to sextortion.

3. Sextortion through social media platforms: Cyber criminals creates pages on leading social networking platform and may also run an ad campaign to target users. Victim fall prey to such posts/accounts thereby revealing their intimate picture/video which cyber criminals use to blackmail the victims.

4. Sextortion via Porn Sites: Users of porn sites are sent blackmail email messages by cyber criminals. Victims are threatened to make their activity on porn sites public and asked to pay money (Usually in cryptocurrency). Many porn sites also offer sex chat/video calls which are being used to blackmail the victims.

Suggestions to stay safe from 'online sextortion':

1. Never pose nude, share intimate pictures over online video calls/social media platforms with unknown person as it can be used for blackmailing and seeking money from you

2. Avoid clicking intimate/nude semi-nude photos/videos on your phone, which if leaked could cause embarrassment. There are several rouge mobile apps that could access your gallery/storage and can be used to blackmail you.

3. Report sextortion to a nearby police station or on cybercrime.gov.in even immediately. Don't hesitate in filing a complaint or contacting the police.

4. Don't shame, embarrass and self-blame. Use the "Report User" option over social media platforms to report any such accounts.

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