Sextortion victims are already in a vulnerable position, and shady companies are taking advantage of this vulnerability to offer “sextortion assistance” services for huge sums – services that they may be unable to render or that won’t help the victims in any way.
The rise of the sextortion assistance scam
In December, 2022, the FBI warned about the increasing number of sextortion attacks against children and teens.
Over 7,000 cases of online financial sextortion of minors have been reported, they said, with at least 3,000 victims and a dozen suicides. This is a concerning trend that highlights the vulnerability of young people to online predators, who coerce them into sending explicit pictures and then extort them for money.
The FBI is now warning about companies that are exploiting the vulnerability of sextortion victims by offering assistance at a high cost.
“Some of the services for which the companies charge fees, such as sending the perpetrators cease and desist orders, make victims feel better but are not legally enforceable,” the FBI explained.
Victims end up giving a lot of money to these companies, with little to show for in return. If they’ve already tried to pay off the sextortionists, these additional payments can exacerbate their financial and mental stress.
Be careful when searching for assistance
There are non-profit organizations and law firms out there who can help sextortion victims in some ways, but the companies mentioned in this alert are obviously not among those.
Are these companies US-based or foreign, and how and where are they advertising their services? Are these companies actual companies or are they simply online shopfronts for scammers?
“Limited reporting indicates the companies are directly or indirectly involved in the sextortion activity,“ the FBI said, but did not elaborate further. We are trying to get those questions answered by the FBI and will update the article when and if they get back to us.
Victims of sextortion should contact law enforcement and non-profit agencies for help, and they will receive it free of charge, the FBI notes.
Companies that offer sextortion assistance for a fee, ask you to sign a contract for these services and use high-pressure or scare tactics to get you to sign it, should be avoided at all costs. You should also be wary of companies that claim to be connected to government or law enforcement officials but try to dissuade you from contacting law enforcement directly.