The Judicial Investigation Agency (OIJ) received 416 complaints for “sextortion” between January 1, 2022 and February 20, 2023. The most frequent victims are between the ages of 18 and 29 since of those 416 complaints filed, 156 correspond to this age group:
From 30 to 39 years > there are 94 causes
40 to 49 years > 70 victims
50 to 64 years > there are 64 complaints
Over 65 years > 14 cases are recorded
Regarding teenagers, there are 21 victims of this type of extortion according to OIJ records. When adding the ages, the result is 419 and it is different from the number of cases, since there may be several victims within the same case.
According to José Solano, head of the Investigation Unit of the Miscellaneous Crimes Section, this extortion occurs when one person or several threaten another with sharing sensitive, intimate, and sexual information with family and friends if they do not agree to a payment.
This leads the victim to make money transactions mainly out of shame and embarrassment that the content is exposed. “In addition to the threat to publish the photos, they send them photos with bloody people and firearms to generate a greater impact, so that the person feels more scared and can cancel the amount”, Solano said.
Up to US$7,000
In most cases, money transfers are made where an initial amount is paid. After this, they continue with the request for money until the person gets tired and decides to file the complaint. Solano specified that the request for money starts at ¢5,000 and there are people who have disbursed up to US$7,000.
It is for this reason that the Agency asks people who are victims of this type of scam not to make any payment and immediately file a complaint with this institution. Investigations can take up to 5 months and are sent to the Public Ministry for continuity.
The OIJ has identified criminal gangs behind these types of acts and most have a judicial file. “In most cases, it corresponds to gangs organized to obtain easy money, to be able to maintain their life and their criminal activity and, thus, generate more extortions from different people,” he explained. Likewise, he clarified that despite making the payment, there is no guarantee that the content will be publicly disseminated.
Sexual pages: One of the most frequent modalities
“Sextortion” can affect both young people, adults and older adults, men, women, regardless of sexual orientation and social status, said the OIJ spokesperson. Solano pointed out that one of the windows to “hunt” the victims is through pages of a sexual nature where the person enters in search of a meeting.
Here the extortionists enter to impersonate a third party and collect from photographs to videos. “Recommend that if they are going to access some type of page of a sexual nature, they know that they may be victims of extortion at some point. This happens because when establishing contact via social networks or WhatsApp they will have the ability to capture a screenshot, they will always request images of a sexual nature and these are the ones they will use to be extorted. Also avoid these types of pages and if they feel threatened and it generates a request and payment, it is recommended to file a complaint”, he pointed out.
The OIJ avoided referring to the pages by indicating that the problem is not these sites but those who use them for these purposes. Solano also reported that the modality in which a person receives an email posing as police officers from another country is being used and tells them that they are being investigated, which is why they must pay money. “They receive emails, including from police officers from other countries, indicating that there is an investigation for having accessed a page, in order to generate an impact on those offended and that, as a payment arrangement, they must cancel money”, he said.
There are cases of people who have even entered the web pages but, out of fear, agree to pay. Also, there are cases of ex-partners who extort the other by disclosing private photographs and videos that were shared during the sentimental relationship. Finally, they identify cases where people meet through social media and exchange sexual content to later become victims of ‘sextortion’.