Experts say people should not share nudes or compromising videos of themselves with people they have met online and have not verified to be real, as the number of sextortion cases increases.
This warning is primarily aimed at men as they are mainly the victims and are targeted for sextortion and blackmailed.
COO for SA Community Crime Watch Mike Venter says, “We put out a warning to the public; and within a period of three months, we had received over 2000 emails from victims that were currently being victimised. That was then. I think from 2015 up until now, it has actually increased.”
Digital law expert Emma Sadleir says her company has dealt with more than 1000 sexploitation cases in the past two years. She says that prevention is better than having to try to contain the aftermath of the crime.
Sadlier says, “We highly recommend facetiming or Whatsapp video call in your attempt to find out if somebody is who they say they are. These people are criminals and they are very clever, and they have a lot of patience.”
“I have clients who would have spoken to the person every day, for a period of eight months, before they sent pictures and then those pictures were used to sextort them. So even if you feel you know this person and you’ve spent a lot of time getting to know them, but you haven’t facetimes them or met them in person, then you have to be very suspicious,” says Sadlier.
In the video below, Digital law expert Emma Sadleir warns against sharing sexually explicit material on social media
Venter says their organisation mainly deals with men, many who are married and targeted for this exact reason.
Like Sadleir, he suggests doing a reverse-image search of any photo that you receive, as many images are lifted from blogs or pornographic websites.
He says authorities must be better educated about crimes of this nature.
The SAPS directed all inquiries to the Directorate of Priority Crimes and the Hawks have not been available to comment on their investigations or on whether these scams form part of larger organised crime syndicates.
Once the amended Film and Publication Bill comes into effect, spreading naked photos of someone without their consent will carry a hefty R300 000 fine or up to three years imprisonment.