Extortion is a criminal act that can have serious consequences for you and your loved ones. If you think you may be the victim of extortion, don’t hesitate to seek help. Here, we will outline the seven warning signs of extortion and provide tips on protecting yourself.

  1. You feel you need to pay something to avoid further harm or violence.
  2. You are threatened with violence or harm if you don’t pay.
  3. You are threatened with public exposure or humiliation if you don’t pay.
  4. You are threatened with losing a job, money, or another valuable asset.
  5. You are threatened with physical violence or harm if you don’t pay.
  6. You feel your freedom or safety is at risk if you don’t pay.
  7. You have been threatened with extortion more than once.

If you are concerned that you may be the victim of extortion, don’t hesitate to seek help. Some agencies Like Octo Digital Forensics can provide you with the resources and support you need to get through this difficult time.

  1. Recover deleted files from hard drives and USB sticks
  2. Extract data from forgotten memory cards
  3. Retrieve information from damaged or deleted files
  4. Extract digital evidence from online profiles and social media pages
  5. Track down lost data and passwords

Extortion is a criminal act where one party demands something from another to avoid causing harm or discomfort. In the context of data recovery, extortion can refer to situations where a person wants data that has been deleted from their computer, for example.

This is an increasingly common problem, as people tend to delete important files without considering the consequences. If you have lost data that you need back, your first step should be to try and find it manually. This involves scanning your computer’s hard drive and looking for any relevant folders or files.

If this doesn’t produce results, you may need to take more drastic measures. One approach is to use software such as Recuva or Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery. These programs can help you recover data from damaged files, deleted partitions, and even USB sticks and hard drives.

Extortion may be your only option if the data you’re after is on an online account or social media page. This involves tracking down personal information shared online and extracting it using sophisticated algorithms or brute force methods.

Contact authorities

We recommend doing this if you feel comfortable putting trust in the authorities. It’s a good idea to bring a trusted friend or family member, as their emotional support can be invaluable as you walk the police through your case. If more people report tech-related violence, law enforcement and legislators will be forced to take it seriously and develop or improve protocols and laws. Blackmail is illegal and deserves to be stamped out.

We started the roadmap with the story of a Colombian woman whose ex threatened to publish intimate pictures taken consensually during their relationship. She went to the police, who set up the perpetrator and arrested him. Colombia is one of several countries with legislation to deal with ‘intimate extortion’, as this kind of blackmail is known there.

When the perpetrator and survivor are located in different countries, jurisdictional issues complicate the case. Fortunately, the number of successful transnational prosecutions is growing.

Address the damage

If the blackmailer distributes your images, there are steps you can take in addition to reporting the crime:

  • Remove the blackmail content. You can take steps to ensure that a web search of your name will not bring up the images on the first page of search results. Look at “How to delete things from the internet” for more information. Key steps:
  • Request that websites take down the information
  • Contact Google to remove information
  • Rebuild a positive online reputation to “bury” the negative search results
  • Report legal violations to search engines
  • Make a legal case for defamation
  • Some people choose to register the images with their national copyright office, which strengthens their own claim and allows them to demand removal with legal backing.

How To Best Deal with sexual extortion
Sexual extortion – sometimes called ‘sextortion’ – is a form of blackmail where someone threatens to share intimate images of you online unless you give in to their demands.

These demands are typically for money, more intimate images, or sexual favors. Blackmailers often target people through dating apps, social media, webcams, or adult pornography sites.

While individuals can use sexual extortion, organized crime is often behind it when the blackmailer demands money. Commonly the blackmailer is not based in America. Remember, it is not your fault. Anyone can experience sexual extortion; you are not alone and have done nothing wrong.

What are the warning signs?
Something does not add up — their online profile is not consistent with what you see and hear when you talk or chat with them. It happens too fast — they express strong emotions for you almost immediately and tempt you to a more private channel, suggesting you get nude or sexual in a video call. They make excuses — they say their webcam is not working and instead send a nude photo which they claim is of them. They say they need help — they need money for some personal emergency like medical treatment, to cover the rent, or even to travel to somewhere.

Collect evidence
Keep a record of all contact from the blackmailer, particularly any demands or threats, and note everything you know about them. This could include their Skype name and ID, Facebook URL, etc. Look at the helpful resources on our how to collect evidence page. Hire a private investigator at Octo Digital Forensics.

Notify the relevant social media platform
Notify Skype, YouTube, or whichever app or social media service was used. Read helpful tips about reporting image-based abuse to social media platforms on our website and find direct reporting links in the eSafety Guide.
Stop all contact with the blackmailer.
Block them and ask your friends to do the same. Consider temporarily deactivating your social media accounts (but do not delete them as you may lose evidence that way).

Secure your accounts
Change the passwords for your social media and online accounts and review the privacy and security settings of your accounts. For more information, see the eSafety Guide. Do not panic. Reach out instead — get support from a trusted friend or family member or an expert counseling and support service if you are feeling anxious or stressed. If you are in Australia, there are many options.

What if I’ve already paid the blackmailer?
You may be able to cancel the money transfer if you act quickly. Blackmailers usually request the cash pick-up option and sometimes collect the money within minutes of the transaction, so you need to be quick. We like to file internet crime complaints with the FBI crime center to see if anybody else has experienced anything similar with that IP address.

Hire A Forensic Examiner 

If you are in this situation, don’t worry.  Octo Digital Forensics uses the same tools as the CIA, FBI, and other agencies to help find, track down, and sever bad actors.  Give them a call at (800) 484-3946