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What is sextortion?

Sextortion is a form of blackmail.

It involves threatening to publish sexual information, photos or videos about someone. This may be to extort money or to force the victim to do something against their will. Photos or recordings are often made without the victim realising or consenting.

Criminals often target people through dating apps, social media, webcams or pornography sites. They may use a fake identity to befriend you online and then threaten to send images to your family and friends.

Sextortion can be committed by individuals, but organised crime gangs are usually behind it.

To avoid falling victim to sextortion, do the following:

  • Set all your social media accounts to private.
  • Do not send compromising or explicit images of yourself to anyone.
  • On social media or dating platforms, be wary of users who try to move the conversation to another platform very quickly.
  • Be wary of new online connections who send you unsolicited sexual images that they claim are pictures of themselves. Criminals often use this tactic to guide the conversation in a sexual direction and lower the victim’s guard.

What to do if you've been targeted:

  • Don’t panic, help and support is available.
  • Don’t pay.
  • Save the evidence: Take screenshots. Save messages and images. Collect URL links to where the information is being shared online.
  • Report it to social media companies if communication happened on these channels. For example, Facebook or Instagram.
  • Report it to your internet service provider.
  • Block all communication with the person targeting you.
  • Most social media sites have rules against sharing intimate content without consent. You should be able to get the material removed.

Report it

We understand that it might be difficult to report this type of crime to us. Our officers are here to listen and to support you in any way we can.

You can report intimate image abuse to us:

Useful links

Leading the UK's fight against serious and organised crime threats.

Factual and easy to understand information on online safety.

How to keep yourself or a child you know safe from child sexual exploitation.

A list of local and national support available for children, young people and families.  

Advice on mental health support for adults.