Netsafe logo

sex•tor•tion

is a type of blackmail when someone threatens to share a nude image or sexually explicit video of you online – unless you pay them or provide more sexual content.

How does sextortion work?

Scammers create fake profiles on social media and try to convince you to share explicit or nude images or videos. Sometimes the scammers have fake footage or images which they claim is you. Once they have your content (or fake content) they start making threats. They might say they’ll post the content online or send it to your friends unless you give them money or share more explicit stuff with them.

These scammers are professional criminals. They use different fake social media accounts and target lots of people at the same time. Sometimes they even pretend to be someone you know or a friend of a friend to encourage you to trust them. They focus on those they think are more likely to do what they want.

How did they trick me?

The scammers use attractive images in their fake profiles, usually of young people. They often pretend to be in a relationship with you online and work to gain your trust. Sometimes, the scammer even shares explicit content to pressure you into doing the same. It’s important to know that usually the scammers didn’t create the content themselves; they got it from somewhere else.

How can I make it stop?

The most important thing is not to give in to the blackmailer’s demands or share more pictures or videos. If you do, they are more likely to continue asking for more money or content. If you have already given them money – do not give them more. Even if you have given money, the remaining tips can still help.

If possible, take screenshots of the threats, but don’t take pictures of the private images or videos. Note down the blackmailer’s account name and where this is happening online.

It might be helpful to write a message for your friends and family, letting them know that someone is trying to scam you (you don’t have to go into detail about what has happened) and ask them not to accept message requests from unknown accounts online.

Report to the social media platform (e.g. Instagram, Snapchat, PornHub) where the scammer contacted you. Give them all the information you can. If your content is shared we also recommend you report to the platform.

Stop talking to the blackmailer and block them on all platforms.

Ensure all your social media accounts are as private as possible or deactivate them temporarily.

Ask someone you trust to help by keeping an eye on social media activity for you. This can help keep you informed and give you a break from social media if you need it

If you are under 18, and if you have copies of the private images or videos the blackmailer is threatening you with, you can use a free tool called Take It Down. It creates a special code or digital fingerprint from the pictures or videos, and it shares that code with online platforms that may help to find and remove them from being shared online.

If you are 18 or older you can use  StopNCII. StopNCII will generate a digital fingerprint, called a hash, of the images/videos on your device. STOPNCII shares the hash with Industry Partners so they can try to help detect and remove the images/videos from being shared online.  

You can make a report to Police by calling 105. If you are at immediate risk please call Police on 111.

Report to Netsafe

If you need assistance or support Netsafe has got you covered.

Contact us by completing an online report form, emailing us on [email protected] or texting on 4282.

We can offer support, including guiding you through any steps you may be able to take if you’ve been caught up in a sextortion scam, and advice on how to stay safe in future. We may be able to help with reporting profiles and content to the online platforms. Here is how our process works.

Our helpline is open from 8am – 8pm weekdays and 9am – 5pm on weekends.

Our free number is 0508 638 723.

When someone shares or threatens to share intimate images or videos of you without your consent, it can be harmful. It is normal to feel betrayed, scared, angry, or humiliated. If you were tricked into sharing those private images or videos, you might also feel ashamed or embarrassed, especially if you are worried about what your family or school might think.

It is important to know that it is not your fault. These scammers are experts at manipulating and tricking people, and even adults can fall victim to them. Don’t panic. Work together with someone you trust to find a solution and support you through this.

If it is an emergency call 111 immediately.

If you are distressed, depressed, or having thoughts of harming yourself, call the Suicide Crisis Helpline on 0508 828 865 or free text 4357

Lifeline Aotearoa logo

We understand your experience may be distressing and encourage you to talk to someone you trust or reach out for further support. You can contact the following helplines for free, confidential support:

Logo of Youthline | Te ara taiohi whakataua kia ora ai

Youthline on free text 234 or call 0800 376 63

Need to talk Logo

Need to Talk: call or text them on 1737

Lifeline Aotearoa logo

Lifeline: call 0800 543 354 or text 4357

Logo for Safe to talk| Korero mai ka ora

Safe to Talk: call 0800 044 334 or text 4334

How do I prevent this from happening to me?

If someone’s requests or actions make you feel uncomfortable, it’s important to listen to your gut.

Put your well-being first and establish appropriate boundaries in your online communication. Remember that it’s okay to say no and to protect your personal information and privacy. If you’re unsure about something, reach
out to a trusted adult or friend for support.

It can be risky to communicate with strangers online. Still, we understand that sometimes someone can appear to be a friend, or you can get caught up in the moment.

If you are communicating with someone you do not know IRL/offline, these are warning signs to watch out for:

If someone you meet online becomes overly friendly right away and bombards you with compliments, it’s a reason to be cautious. This behavior, known as “love bombing,” can be a red flag.

Remind yourself that unless you’ve met the person in real life, it’s impossible to know their true intentions or identity. Be careful of trusting someone if you haven’t had that offline connection.

Scammers can use pre-recorded content to make it seem like they’re interacting with you live. Stay aware that things may not be as they seem.

Are you wanting to help someone you know?

How does it work?

Scammers create fake social media profiles and engage in online conversations , often targeting young people. Their objective is to persuade people to share sexually explicit or nude images and/or videos. Once these sensitive materials are shared, the scammer resorts to threats, such as publicly posting the victim’s content or forwarding it to their contacts – unless a monetary payment or additional content is provided.

These scammers operate in a professional manner, using multiple social media accounts and targeting numerous individuals simultaneously. They generally focus their efforts on those whom they believe are most likely to comply with their demands or provide more content.

How do they convince people to share nudes?

The scammers use enticing images in their fake profiles, typically featuring young and attractive individuals. They build the victim’s trust and often convince them they are in an online relationship. Frequently, they will share explicit content, either in the form of images or occasionally pre-recorded videos to try and coerce young people to share similar content with them. It is possible to make pre-recorded content appear as though it is being streamed live.  The scammers themselves are not usually the source of the nude content; they have obtained it from elsewhere.

How do I help make it stop?

It’s important the affected person doesn’t pay the blackmailer or share more pictures/videos. If they do, the scammer will continue to make demands for more money or content; and they may be more likely to end up posting the content. If money has already been provided – ensure no further money is paid. If they have already given money, the remaining steps will still help.

If possible, obtain proof of any threats by taking screenshots (but not of the intimate images or videos, as this can be a crime). Take down the blackmailers account name and where online this is happening

It might be helpful for victim (or you) to write a message for their friends and family, telling them that someone is trying to scam them (don’t have to say what happened), and asking them not to accept message requests from unknown accounts online.  

Report what’s happening to the affected person to the platform they contacted them on (eg Instagram, Snapchat, PornHub). If their content is shared we also recommend a report is made to the platform.

Ensure the affected person stops all contact with the blackmailer and blocks them on all platforms.

Deactivate or ‘lock down’ (set all privacy settings to their highest level possible) all their social media accounts.  

Keep an eye on social media for the affected person. This can help keep you informed if anything is shared and allows the victim to take a break from social media.  

If the affected person is under 18 and has copies of their private images or videos they are being threatened with, they can use the free tool called Take It Down. Take It Down makes a special code, like a digital fingerprint from the pictures/videos. Take It Down then shares the code with participating online platforms so they can help find and remove the pictures/videos from being shared online. 

If you are 18 or older you can use  StopNCII. StopNCII will generate a digital fingerprint, called a hash, of the images/videos on your device. STOPNCII shares the hash with Industry Partners so they can try to help detect and remove the images/videos from being shared online.  

You can make a report to Police by calling 105. If you are at immediate risk please call Police on 111.

How can I support the person targeted?

When an intimate image or video of a person is shared or threatened to be shared without their consent, it can have extremely harmful effects. The individual targeted may experience emotions such as betrayal, fear, anger, or humiliation. These feelings can be intensified if they were deceived into sharing nude or sexual content and they are concerned about potential consequences from their family or school.

It is crucial to recognize and affirm that the affected person is not at fault in these situations. The scammers are professional criminals and possess a high level of expertise in manipulating individuals and establishing rapid trust. Young people, in particular, may lack the experience to identify red flags, but it is important to note that many adults also become victims of this scam.

We recommend that you do not panic and work together with the affected person focusing on a solution. We can, and regularly do, support individuals and families through these experiences. You can get through this.

As this type of scam can cause significant harm. We recommend you check in with the affected person to assess if they require further support. You or the affected person can contact the following:

  • If it is an emergency call 111 immediately
  • If the affected person is distressed, depressed, or having thoughts of harming yourself, call the Suicide Crisis Helpline: Suicide Crisis Helpline call 0508 828 865 or free text 4357
  • Youthline: free text 234 or call 0800 376 633
  • Need to Talk: call or text them on 1737
  • Lifeline: call 0800 543 354
  • Safe to Talk: call 0800 044 334 or text them on 4334

Report to Netsafe

If you need assistance or support Netsafe has got you covered.

Contact us by completing an online report form, emailing us on [email protected] or texting on 4282.

We can offer support, including guiding you through any steps you may be able to take if you’ve been caught up in a sextortion scam, and advice on how to stay safe in future. We may be able to help with reporting profiles and content to the online platforms. Here is how our process works.

Our helpline is open from 8am – 8pm weekdays and 9am – 5pm on weekends.

Our free number is 0508 638 723.