“Children duped into undressing by chat-room blackmailers” was the headline that caught my attention in The Times, 9 August 2013.Blackmail and extortion on the internet was the topic of a blog post that I wrote back in 2011 following a spate of cases where adult victims were induced on internet chat rooms to part with private information, then to perform a sexual act which was secretly being recorded. Shortly after, the victim would receive an email with a link to a public video, displaying their faces and private parts.
The title of the video will refer to the victim as a paedophile, at the least, and will include their full name, their residential or work address, their occupation and in one case the names of their kids. The cost to remove the videos would vary depending on the occupation of the victim and on their public standing.
Among those who have fallen for this scum were school teachers, doctors, government employees and respectable accountants. Each for their own reason, mainly in pursuit of friendship, ended up very quickly in places they never intended to go.
They were naïve and lonely or were just looking for a bit of momentary excitement in their lives. For a critical moment they let off their guards not realising the horrendous consequences that could follow, for them, for their children and for their friends and families. The bad thing about this scam is that it is all happening fast – very fast. You can read the blog post here .
These victims of blackmail on the internet were all intelligent men and women, some with immense life experience. As calm, thinking adults they managed to deal with the situation effectively and to my knowledge, have all moved on with their lives.
The Times article talks about a website that I am very familiar with, “Chatroulette”. The site randomly pairs users who can chat by text or by video. According to the Times, the site is widely used by teenagers some of whom have fallen victim to the scam.
Having witnessed the utter despair experienced by adult victims of sexual blackmail on the internet, I can barely imagine what sort of thoughts will be going in the mind of a child who faces a similar situation, just without the life experience to help them deal with the event effectively.
By: Yair Cohen