At least five Marines are the victims of a new online "sextortion" scam, one which threatens to report them to their commanding officers after luring them into simulated sex via Skype.
Criminal investigators at the U.S. Naval Base in Okinawa, Japan, have issued a warning to Marines to be on alert for Internet scams that are specifically targeting service members, reports the Marine Corps Times.
Sex scams are rampant online, and if you take the right precautions, you can avoid being "sextorted."
What Is 'Sextortion'?
"Sextortion" scams are perpetrated by hackers with a penchant for blackmailing victims using naked pictures and videos.
Once they have gathered naked or embarrassing photos of the victim, the culprits will either demand money or even force the victim to strip for the blackmailer via webcam.
Marines caught in this virtual web are often at great risk of being exposed, with potential conduct violations that could cost an officer his career, reports the Times.
How to Avoid Becoming a Victim
As its name implies, "sextortion" is extortion, and like all criminal forms of extortion, it is illegal for Internet perpetrators to gain property or money by threatening to harm the victim's reputation, business, or family life.
However, the nature of sextortion makes it very hard to report, as many victims fear going to the police would leave their personal or work life in shambles.
Victims, whether they are Marines or teenage girls, can avoid sextortion scams by:
- Assuming your pictures can be seen by anyone. Just because you have privacy settings on Facebook doesn't mean that your pictures are safe from hackers.
- Not sending "friends" naked videos or pictures. Hackers are clever enough to trick victims into thinking they are sending explicit pictures or video to someone they trust, according to the FBI, so just don't send them.
- Staying clothed on Skype. Assuming that every Skype call could be recorded and then shared, it makes sense to keep your pants on.
- She's Just Not That Into You: Air Force Warns of Online 'Sextortion' (Wired)
- Beware of 'Sextortion' (Federal Bureau of Investigation)
- 7 Simple Steps to Protect Your Online Privacy (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Online Scams (FindLaw)