Regardless of your age or location, you are probably aware of WhatsApp. The popular application enables users to communicate and exchange files easily. Professionals and individuals from all over the world use it. And the number of users is constantly growing. However, just like many other popular communications channels, WhatsApp has also become a fertile ground for scammers and criminals.
The famous application was recently involved in cyber sextortion cases. Learn what these cases involved so that you never become a victim.
How Did Cybercriminals Use WhatsApp for Sextortion?
This is a relatively new internet scam. However, it has some classic online scam elements. One of them is leverage. Scammers use threats and intimidation. They threaten victims with sharing certain materials such as nude photos or videos involving nudity. Naturally, these scammers want something in return. They ask for money. In exchange, they promise not to publish the materials on the internet. Nor share them with other individuals. Moreover, cybercriminals not only claim they will post the photos. But they also threaten victims they will make them viral. Consequently, many people give in to the pressure. And then, they usually pay.
All in all, this is what sextortion means. It is a classic extortion case. Criminals’ leverage on victims is digital materials containing sex or nudity scenes.
How Do Scammers End Up Having Pictures or Videos of the Victims?
There are different ways to get hold of such files. The most common scenario is getting them directly from the victims. To achieve this, scammers can use different tricks:
- They lure the victim via dating websites or apps. After pretending to be interested in them, scammers ask for nude photos or sex videos.
- Scammers approach the victims directly via WhatsApp. They try to engage the victims in sex talk. After a while, they ask them to participate in a sex chat video call. Hence, they record the infamous materials.
- Cybercriminals use their technical skills. They manage to hack people’s phones. Once inside, they check out their files. If they spot any nude materials, they’ve got a shot.
No matter the case, once they have the leverage, scammers quickly act. They call or text the victim on WhatsApp. And they start a series of threats. Obviously, they show the photos or videos in their possession. Then, they also say where and when they will publish them. Finally, they ask for money.
The Second Scenario
Many consumers have also complained about unknown callers showing them nude photos. These calls are quick. And callers make contact via WhatsApp. Usually, they shared materials with naked girls. Then, scammers ask for money.
After the person answers the call and gets a glimpse of the photo, the call abruptly ends. However, scammers then might send screenshots from those videos or photos. Also, deleting the number won’t work. Scammers will continue to harass the victim.
How to Avoid Sextortion
The most important thing is to be warry of strangers’ strange requests. Even if you meet someone on a dating app. This sort of environment doesn’t mean a request for nude materials is legitimate. Moreover, be all the more cautious if the person suddenly asks for this. Especially if they act too friendly or show an exaggerated and unjustified interest.
More so, avoid befriending strangers on WhatsApp. This app is intended for communication. However, this normally refers to people you already know. Receiving unsolicited messages from strangers here is a red flag. Especially if the message contains nude photos. The same applies to calls. You don’t have to rush to take calls from unknown numbers.
Finally, if scammers threaten to post nude photos of you on the internet, contact the police. Don’t give in to the pressure of paying. You don’t have any guarantee the scammers won’t publish the materials. Also, you risk being extorted in the future too.
Moreover, if you decide to participate in sex chat calls, it is advisable to cover your face. Especially if you know little to nothing about the person you’re chatting with.
Additionally, protect your mobile against hacks. Not a lot of people do this. They simply stick to the default security features of their mobiles. However, poor security leaves the door open to hackers. You should protect your mobile the same way you do with your laptop. That is by using an antivirus. These programs are compatible with mobiles too. Moreover, you can use one program only across multiple devices. Without suitable security measures, cybercrooks can access your files. Including the photos and videos you’d rather keep to yourself.
The number of internet scams and fraud attempts has skyrocketed over the past years. Sextortion via WhatsApp is one of the most recent tactics cybercriminals use for illicit gains. Protect your identity and peace of mind against this threat. Be cautious who you chat with on WhatsApp. And try to protect your mobile against hacking attempts.
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