Sextortion – An FBI Warning

Sextortion & Online Extortion

An FBI Warning About Sextortion & Deepfakes

How Scams Work – A SCARS Special Report

Sextortion is a real crime!
Sextortion is a real crime!

Sextortion Is Exploding & Deep Fakes Are Making It Much Worse!

Malicious Actors Manipulating Photos and Videos to Create Explicit Content and Sextortion Schemes

The FBI is warning the public of criminals creating synthetic content (commonly referred to as “deepfakes”) by manipulating benign photographs or videos to target victims in Sextortion Scams.

Technology advancements are continuously improving the quality, customizability, and accessibility of artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled content creation. The FBI continues to receive reports from victims, including minor children and non-consenting adults, whose photos or videos were altered into explicit content. The photos or videos are then publicly circulated on social media or pornographic websites, for the purpose of harassing victims or sextortion schemes.

Introduction To Sextortion

Sextortion is a form of cybercrime in which the perpetrator threatens to release sexually explicit photos or videos of the victim, obtained through coercion or deception if the victim does not provide money, goods, or other favors. Sextortion can be devastating to victims, who may experience humiliation, anxiety, and depression. In some cases, victims have even committed suicide.

Sextortion can occur in a variety of ways. In one common scenario, the perpetrator will pose as someone else, such as a friend or romantic partner, and trick the victim into sending them explicit photos or videos. Once the perpetrator has the photos or videos, they will threaten to release them if the victim does not cooperate with their demands.

In other cases, the perpetrator will use malware or other hacking techniques to gain access to the victim’s computer or phone. Once they have access, they can steal the victim’s personal information, including their contact information, passwords, and credit card numbers. They can then use this information to blackmail the victim or to commit other crimes.

This is especially effective against teens and young adults!

Explicit Content Creation – How It Works

  1. Malicious actors use content manipulation technologies and services to exploit photos and videos for Sextortion Scams — typically captured from an individual’s social media account, open internet, or requested from the victim—into sexually-themed images that appear true-to-life in likeness to a victim, then circulate them on social media, public forums, or pornographic websites.
  2. Many victims, which have included minors, are unaware their images were copied, manipulated, and circulated until it was brought to their attention by someone else.
  3. The photos are then sent directly to the victims by criminals for sextortion or harassment, or until it was self-discovered on the internet.
  4. Once circulated, victims can face significant challenges in preventing the continual sharing of manipulated content or removal from the internet.

Sextortion and Harassment

Sextortion, which violates several federal & state criminal statutes in the United States (and in many other countries,) involves coercing victims into providing sexually explicit photos or videos of themselves, then threatening to share them publicly or with the victim’s family and friends. The key motivators for this are a desire for more illicit content, financial gain, or bullying and harassing others. Criminals have used manipulated photos or videos with the purpose of extorting victims for ransom or to gain compliance with other demands (e.g., sending nude photos).

As of April 2023, the FBI has observed an increase in sextortion victims reporting the use of fake images or videos created from content posted on their social media sites or web postings, provided to the malicious actor upon request, or captured during video chats.

Based on recent victim reporting, the criminals typically demanded:

  1. Payment (e.g., money, gift cards) with threats to share the images or videos with family members or social media friends if funds were not received; or
  2. The victim sends real sexually-themed images or videos.

FBI Sextortion Recommendations

The FBI urges the public to exercise caution when posting or direct messaging personal photos, videos, and identifying information on social media, dating apps, and other online sites. Although seemingly innocuous when posted or shared, the images and videos can provide criminals an abundant supply of content to exploit for criminal activity. Advancements in content creation technology and accessible personal images online present new opportunities for criminals to find and target victims. This leaves them vulnerable to embarrassment, harassment, sextortion/extortion, financial loss, or continued long-term re-victimization.

The FBI recommends the public consider the following when sharing content (e.g., photos and videos) or engaging with individuals online:

  • Monitor children’s online activity and discuss risks associated with sharing personal content
  • Use discretion when posting images, videos, and personal content online, particularly those that include children or their information.
    • Images, videos, or personal information posted online can be captured, manipulated, and distributed by criminals without your knowledge or consent.
    • Once content is shared on the internet, it can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to remove it once it is circulated or posted by other parties.
  • Run frequent online searches of your and your children’s information (e.g., full name, address, phone number, etc.) to help identify the exposure and spread of personal information on the internet.
  • Apply privacy settings on social media accounts—including setting profiles and your friends lists as private—to limit the public exposure of your photos, videos, and other personal information.
  • Consider using reverse image search engines to locate any photos or videos that have circulated on the internet without your knowledge.
  • Exercise caution when accepting friend requests, communicating, engaging in video conversations, or sending images to individuals you do not know personally. Be especially wary of individuals who immediately ask or pressure you to provide them. Those items could be screen-captured, recorded, manipulated, shared without your knowledge or consent, and used to exploit you or someone you know.
  • Do not provide any unknown or unfamiliar individuals with money or other items of value. Complying with criminals does not guarantee your sensitive photos or content will not be shared.
  • Use discretion when interacting with known individuals online who appear to be acting outside their normal pattern of behavior. Criminals take over social media accounts and can easily manipulate them to gain trust from friends or contacts to further criminal schemes or activity.
  • Secure social media and other online accounts using complex passwords or passphrases and multi-factor authentication.
  • Research the privacy, data sharing, and data retention policies of social media platforms, apps, and websites before uploading and sharing images, videos, or other personal content.

What To Do?

If you are a victim of sextortion, there are a few things you can do. First, do not give in to the perpetrator’s demands. This will only encourage them to continue their behavior. Second, report the crime to the police. The police may be able to track down the perpetrator and bring them to justice. Finally, seek help from a mental health professional. The emotional trauma of being a victim of sextortion can be significant, and it is important to get help if you are struggling.

Here are some tips to help protect yourself from sextortion:

  • Be careful about what information you share online. Do not share your personal information, such as your address, phone number, or social security number, with people you do not know well.
  • Be suspicious of emails or messages from people you do not know. If an email or message seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Do not click on links in emails or messages from people you do not know. These links may lead to malicious websites that can infect your computer with malware.
  • Keep your software up to date. Software updates often include security patches that can help protect your computer from malware.
  • Use strong passwords and change them regularly. Do not use the same password for multiple accounts.
  • Be aware of the risks of using public Wi-Fi networks. These networks are not secure and can be used by hackers to steal your personal information.
  • If you think you may have been a victim of sextortion, report it to the police immediately.

Also, read the SCARS Guide to surviving sextortion: Surviving Sextortion / Sexual Photo Blackmail

More About Sextortion

Additional Resources

For more information on sextortion, see the 2 September 2021 PSA, “FBI Warns about an Increase in Sextortion Complaints,” at

Additionally, the below FBI press releases contain important information regarding this scheme:

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children provides a free service known as Take It Down, which could help victims, who have possession of the image or video files, remove or stop the online sharing of nude, partially nude, or sexually explicit content that was taken while under 18 years old. For more information, visit

If you believe you are the victim of a crime using these types of tactics, retain all information regarding the incident (e.g., usernames, email addresses, websites or names of platforms used for communication, photos, videos, etc.) and immediately report it to:

Reporting these crimes can help law enforcement identify criminals and prevent further victimization.

-/ 30 /-

What do you think about this?
Please share your thoughts in a comment below!

SCARS FREE Support & Recovery Program - 4 EVER FREE

Do You Need Support?
Get It Now!

SCARS provides the leading Support & Recovery program for relationship scam victims – completely FREE!

Our managed peer support groups allow victims to talk to other survivors and recover in the most experienced environment possible, for as long as they need. Recovery takes as long as it takes – we put no limits on our support!

SCARS is the most trusted support & education provider in the world. Our team is certified in trauma-informed care, grief counseling, and so much more!

To apply to join our groups visit

We also offer separate support groups for family & friends too.

SCARS STAR Membership

Become a

SCARS offers memberships in our STAR program, which includes many benefits for a very low annual membership fee!

SCARS STAR Membership benefits include:

  • FREE Counseling or Therapy Benefit from our partner
  • Exclusive members-only content & publications
  • Discounts on SCARS Self-Help Books Save
  • And more!

To learn more about the SCARS STAR Membership visit

To become a SCARS STAR Member right now visit


SCARS Publishing Self-Help Recovery Books Available At

Scam Victim Self-Help Do-It-Yourself Recovery Books

SCARS Printed Books For Every Scam Survivor From SCARS Publishing


Each is based on our SCARS Team’s 32-plus years of experience.

SCARS Website Visitors receive an Extra 10% Discount
Use Discount Code “romanacescamsnow” at Checkout

Always Report All Scams – Anywhere In The World To:

Go to to learn how

U.S. FTC at and SCARS at
Visit to learn more!



Legal Disclaimer:

The content provided on this platform regarding psychological topics is intended solely for educational and entertainment purposes. The publisher makes no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information presented. The content is designed to raise awareness about various psychological subjects, and readers are strongly encouraged to conduct their own research and verify information independently.

The information presented does not constitute professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment of any psychological disorder or disease. It is not a substitute for professional medical or mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Readers are advised to seek the guidance of a licensed medical professional for any questions or concerns related to their mental health.

The publisher disclaims any responsibility for actions taken or not taken based on the content provided. The treatment of psychological issues is a serious matter, and readers should consult with qualified professionals to address their specific circumstances. The content on this platform is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, a therapist-client relationship.

Interpretation and Definitions


For the purposes of this Disclaimer:

  • Company (referred to as either “the Company”, “We”, “Us” or “Our” in this Disclaimer) refers to Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. (registered d.b.a. “SCARS”,) 9561 Fountainbleau Blvd., Suit 602, Miami FL 33172.
  • Service refers to the Website.
  • You means the individual accessing this website, or the company, or other legal entity on behalf of which such individual is accessing or using the Service, as applicable.
  • Website refers to, accessible from

Website Disclaimer

The information contained on this website is for general information purposes only.

The Company assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions in the contents of the Service.

In no event shall the Company be liable for any special, direct, indirect, consequential, or incidental damages or any damages whatsoever, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tort, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Service or the contents of the Service. The Company reserves the right to make additions, deletions, or modifications to the contents on the Service at any time without prior notice.

The Company does not warrant this website in any way.

External Links Disclaimer

This website may contain links to external websites that are not provided or maintained by or in any way affiliated with the Company.

Please note that the Company does not guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of any information on these external websites.

Errors and Omissions Disclaimer

The information given by SCARS is for general guidance on matters of interest only. Even if the Company takes every precaution to ensure that the content of this website is both current and accurate, errors can occur. Plus, given the changing nature of laws, rules, and regulations, there may be delays, omissions, or inaccuracies in the information contained on this website.

SCARS is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information.

Fair Use Disclaimer

SCARS may use copyrighted material that has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The Company is making such material available for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research.

The Company believes this constitutes a “fair use” of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the United States Copyright law.

If You wish to use copyrighted material from this website for your own purposes that go beyond fair use, You must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Views Expressed Disclaimer

The Service may contain views and opinions which are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other author, agency, organization, employer, or company, including SCARS.

Comments published by users are their sole responsibility and the users will take full responsibility, liability, and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The Company is not liable for any comment published by users and reserves the right to delete any comment for any reason whatsoever.

No Responsibility Disclaimer

The information on the Service is provided with the understanding that the Company is not herein engaged in rendering legal, accounting, tax, medical or mental health, or other professional advice and services. As such, it should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting, tax, legal, medical or mental health, or other competent advisers.

In no event shall the Company, its team, board of directors, volunteers, or its suppliers be liable for any special, incidental, indirect, or consequential damages whatsoever arising out of or in connection with your access or use or inability to access or use the Service.

“Use at Your Own Risk” Disclaimer

All information on this website is provided “as is”, with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness or of the results obtained from the use of this information, and without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including, but not limited to warranties of performance, merchantability, and fitness for a particular purpose.

SCARS will not be liable to You or anyone else for any decision made or action taken in reliance on the information given by the Service or for any consequential, special, or similar damages, even if advised of the possibility of such damages.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about this Disclaimer, You can contact Us:

  • By email:

PLEASE NOTE: Psychology Clarification

The following specific modalities within the practice of psychology are restricted to psychologists appropriately trained in the use of such modalities:

  • Diagnosis: The diagnosis of mental, emotional, or brain disorders and related behaviors.
  • Psychoanalysis: Psychoanalysis is a type of therapy that focuses on helping individuals to understand and resolve unconscious conflicts.
  • Hypnosis: Hypnosis is a state of trance in which individuals are more susceptible to suggestion. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, and pain.
  • Biofeedback: Biofeedback is a type of therapy that teaches individuals to control their bodily functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including stress, anxiety, and pain.
  • Behavioral analysis: Behavioral analysis is a type of therapy that focuses on changing individuals’ behaviors. It is often used to treat conditions such as autism and ADHD.
    Neuropsychology: Neuropsychology is a type of psychology that focuses on the relationship between the brain and behavior. It is often used to assess and treat cognitive impairments caused by brain injuries or diseases.

SCARS and the members of the SCARS Team do not engage in any of the above modalities in relationship to scam victims. SCARS is not a mental healthcare provider and recognizes the importance of professionalism and separation between its work and that of the licensed practice of psychology.

SCARS is an educational provider of generalized self-help information that individuals can use for their own benefit to achieve their own goals related to emotional trauma. SCARS recommends that all scam victims see professional counselors or therapists to help them determine the suitability of any specific information or practices that may help them.

SCARS cannot diagnose or treat any individuals, nor can it state the effectiveness of any educational information that it may provide, regardless of its experience in interacting with traumatized scam victims over time. All information that SCARS provides is purely for general educational purposes to help scam victims become aware of and better understand the topics and to be able to dialog with their counselors or therapists.

It is important that all readers understand these distinctions and that they apply the information that SCARS may publish at their own risk, and should do so only after consulting a licensed psychologist or mental healthcare provider.






This content and other material contained on the website, apps, newsletter, and products (“Content”), is general in nature and for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical, legal, or financial advice; the Content is not intended to be a substitute for licensed or regulated professional advice. Always consult your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider, lawyer, financial, or tax professional with any questions you may have regarding the educational information contained herein. SCARS makes no guarantees about the efficacy of information described on or in SCARS’ Content. The information contained is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible situations or effects. SCARS does not recommend or endorse any specific professional or care provider, product, service, or other information that may be mentioned in SCARS’ websites, apps, and Content unless explicitly identified as such.

The disclaimers herein are provided on this page for ease of reference. These disclaimers supplement and are a part of SCARS’ website’s Terms of Use. 

All original content is Copyright © 1991 – 2023 Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. (Registered D.B.A SCARS) All Rights Reserved Worldwide & Webwide. Third-party copyrights acknowledge.

U.S. State of Florida Registration Nonprofit (Not for Profit) #N20000011978 [SCARS DBA Registered #G20000137918] – Learn more at

View the claimed and or registered indicia, service marks, and trademarks of Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc., All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Contact the law firm for the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Incorporated by email at

Share This Information - Choose Your Social Media!

Leave A Comment