Sexortation the new catfish scam?

Black mirror s3 ep3: Shut up and Dance screenshot
After a virus infects his laptop, a teen faces a daunting choice: carry out orders delivered by text message, or risk having intimate secrets exposed.

Tom Morris wrote on his blog

For some, Black Mirror seems to be a HOWTO guide. I guess if you are going to use sexual shame to make money, Britain is the best place to target.

He’s not wrong, from the Telegraph paper link.

Organised criminal gangs are blackmailing growing numbers of young men after using social media to entice them into performing sex acts on screen.

Police have revealed an unprecedented rise in the new crime of webcam blackmail – known as ‘sextortion’ – with more than 900 cases reported so far this year.

That is already more than double the total for the whole of 2015.

But senior officers at the National Crime Agency fear the true scale of the problem is far bigger, with many victims too ashamed to report their involvement to police.

Among recent victims were four young men who became so desperate at the thought of being publicly humiliated that they took their own lives.

I mentioned this in my talk at TedXManchester 4. At the time people seemed a little baffled and you can see how its can be confused with Cat-fishing. This partly why I felt it deserved a entry in urban dictionary (even if I did spell it slightly wrong).

Watching Black Mirror Season 3 episode 3: Shut up and dance I was instantly thinking about this even if [Promise not to spoil it… but there is so much I could say] but there is a really nice breakdown at the psychtech podcast too.

If people think blocking your webcam will solve the problem, think again! This has just got started, I dare not think how low this scam will go.

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.