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Emilie Silverwood-Cope: The best defence we have against ‘sextortion’ is education





The CEO of Cambridge-based Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) appeared on the BBCs Crimewatch recently to warn parents and teens about the growing numbers of children being targeted by sexual extortion gangs - commonly known as ‘sextortion’.

Internet Watch Foundation analysts say 60 per cent of ‘sextortion’ reports involved boys aged 16 and 17.
Internet Watch Foundation analysts say 60 per cent of ‘sextortion’ reports involved boys aged 16 and 17.

Sextortion is a crime that involves adults coercing children and teens into sending explicit images online and it’s on the rise across the USA, Australia, UK and Europe. The organised cybercriminals are targeting mostly young boys aged between 10-18, but girls are targeted too. IWF analysts say that 60 per cent of the reports involved boys aged 16 and 17.

The criminals pose as teen girls and young women - and use gaming platforms such as Discord, but more usually social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, to target their victims. The tactic is to be friendly, flirty and then demand payment after getting the photos and videos. They use the follower list as a blackmail device - “we will send these pictures to your followers” - and repeatedly demand money. Paying up once is never enough.



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