Cyber blackmail is a new trend or form of bullying that is aimed at teens, college students, and younger children using webcams. A webcam is a small video camera that mounts onto the computer. It allows you to film yourself and send the videos made through email to someone that you know or have met online. It may seem like a harmless application but for some has turned into a tool for cyberbullying.
One case is Amanda Todd, a 12-year-old from British Columbia. She was online and met someone in a chat room or social network. This person convinced her to film herself topless on the webcam. He sent these photos to her classmates and teachers. This resulted in her having to change schools because of the bullying she endured there. The cyberbullying did not end even after she changed schools.
This man continued to stalk and “online blackmail” her through the Internet. She did not comply with demands for more photos so he published the topless photos again. She killed herself in September 2012. This is an example of cyber blackmail using webcams. This does not just happen to girls it happens to boys too.
A recent incident is Daniel Perry of Scotland whose conversation and actions were recorded by someone he met using Skype. Often these cyber blackmailers ask for nude photos or a strip tease using a camera or webcam. The cyber blackmailers told him that they would show the video and conversation to his family unless he paid up. Also, he was bullied by trolls on Ask.fm network. So he had two incidents of cyberbullying at the same time.
Instead of going to his parents and asking for help, the boy jumped off the Forth Road Bridge killing himself. He was described as an easy going happy person that did not let things get him down. This is another extreme case of cyber blackmail. They prey on the young person’s need for attention and then manipulate them with guilt and shame.
The victims often meet the blackmailer on a dating website. They often see a photo of a very beautiful woman or handsome man. This person chats with the victim until they are comfortable with them. After that, they convince the victim to photograph or videotape themselves in sexually compromising positions.
Once this is accomplished they blackmail the victim by threatening to send the photos to the family and friends. Sometimes they threaten to doctor the photos to make the photos look like they are with someone or a child. They prey on the victim’s shame and fear. It is hard to prosecute these crimes because sometimes the criminals are on the other side of the world.
Some tips to avoid cyber blackmail
Don’t let your children or teens use a webcam for erotic videos or photos on the Internet. Monitor them closely and know how they are using it. Teach your children not to ever give out any information or take photos that they would not want their parents, friends, or family members to see. Talk with them about this topic and tell them to tell you should something unfortunate occur. Teach them that nothing is too shameful to talk about.
Report the crime to a fraud website that investigates Internet and webcam crimes and scams. Some sites to report these crimes to are Reputation Squad, The National Fraud Information Center, Cybercops, and Scambusters.
Social media can be a positive experience when used correctly but can be a source of cyber blackmail when you give too much personal information to strangers. Cyber blackmailers often demand money or pressure the victim to commit immoral acts by exposing a video or information about them that is personal.
Don’t write anything about friends or family that you do not want to be read by everyone. Personal thoughts about someone belong in a diary, not a social media account. It can be read by the person and cause both of your grief. Don’t share compromising photos of yourself and pictures of valuables this often attracts scammers and blackmailers.
Teach kids not to post phone numbers and email addresses on sites that they belong to. If they have problems with members on websites tell them to tell you about it. Perhaps, not allowing young children and teens to have webcams can stop the problems associated with this type of bullying.
When teens join sites often they can be communicating with an adult thinking it’s a teen. If someone wants too much information teach them to block the person or not give the information out. One man posed as a friend on social networks and then sent a virus to teen girls through email that enabled him to access the victim’s computers. From there he found pictures and was able to download them. He had control of their computers. This crime is called sextortion and happens to both boys and girls.
The most important tip is to be sure that your kids can communicate this information to you should it happen to them. That way you can save their life. Finally follow some of these tips that relate to cyber blackmail.