A PRETORIA teenager was forced to pay more than R20 000 to avoid being reported to police or have his naked pictures posted on social media.
When his savings and pocket money eventually ran out, the 18-year-old, only identified as S, decided enough was enough.
“I lived in fear because they said they were going to report me to the police for sexual harassment. I was terrified this would happen because I thought I did something wrong. Also, my parents have no idea about all of this.”
The youngster told the Pretoria News that every time his phone buzzed, he broke out in cold sweat because he knew it was yet another demand for money.
But last month when they once again demanded a payment, he realised he could not continue. “I decided to block them, even though I feared the police would come and arrest me. I have, however, not heard from them again.”
And as expected, there was no case opened against him with the SAPS. He said it all started a few months ago when an attractive girl befriended him on Instagram.
“She started to DM (direct message) me and she asked whether we can start chatting on Whatsapp, which we did.
“She then started to ask me to send nude pictures of myself to her. I refused, but she kept on asking. She then sent a nude picture of herself and eventually I relented and did the same. I never thought that it was a scam.”
This was the start of his nightmare; he got a message from her saying that she was underage and if he did not pay her
R10 000, she would go to the police and she would post his naked picture on social media. The teenager said although he did not believe she was underage, given her picture, he started to be afraid and paid the R10 000.
Although she assured him it would be a one-off payment, several more demands for smaller amounts followed, until he had eventually paid everything he had.
“I did not fear so much that my picture would appear on social media. I was just terrified of the police and the fact that my parents still to this day know nothing about this.” He said he hoped this was the end of his ordeal because he was a first-year student, living with his parents, and this nightmare consumed his entire life.
Private investigator Mike Bolhuis of Specialised Security Services said on his blog that sextortion was extremely rife.
He said his company was contacted almost daily about this by concerned parents, as children were not always aware of the dangers posed by smartphones and the various applications open to sextortionists and cybercriminals.
He explained that in these cases a cyber relationship usually started to develop with a victim via any of the social media apps. The conversation usually escalated to photo and pornographic images, used by the scammer to extort money from the unsuspecting victim.
Bolhuis advised that a person should resist sending personal information or pictures of themselves which could be used and manipulated, and never pay up.
“Sextortion is the latest form of cyber exploitation. Most people you meet online are not who they say they are … Sextortionists often befriend victims online by using a fake identity.”
Bolhuis warned people, especially youngsters, to be alert while on social media.
Bu Tanya Waterworth - firstname.lastname@example.org
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