The Judicial Police has issued a warning of the significant increase in complaints of invasion of privacy and extortion associated with the use of social networking sites.

These situations, which the police term as “Sextortion”, occur when users, adults or minors, use a social network to share intimate photos or videos of themselves including sexual activities with others. In doing so, the senders subsequently become victims of extortion, through demands of large amounts of money to avoid their pictures or videos being further exposed to others.

Victims pay 100, 200, 500 euros, so that images are not released to their friends and family. Criminals are hidden in fake social networking profiles in accounts registered abroad. A crime that is increasing in Portugal.

The Judicial Police, have issued an appeal stating that “In the last three to four months there was a significant increase in cases. In Lisbon alone there were 50 new complaints. We are investigating, but it is not a crime easy to unravel”, Carlos Goatherd, coordinator of the section of computer crimes of the Judicial Police told the Correio da Manha.

The victims – including men and some minors – turn out to be hostage to ‘Sextortion’ name (which joins sex with extortion) given to phenomenon. It’s just that if they decide to pay, the chances are the victim is asked for more money.

“It all starts on social networks, where it gains the trust of the victims. After end up making a video link in less own situations. These images are then used in blackmail,” said the head of the PJ, which is said concerned about the phenomenon. “It’s a crime not only originating in Portugal but also from abroad. Therefore, international cooperation is very important. It is a crime with many features and that often comes from countries where cooperation is very limited”.

This type of transnational crime has an erosive effect on public confidence in the INTERNET network structures and is highly devastating in terms of psychological effects on the victims. The Judicial Police warning and calls for:

  • Steps to prohibit the use of social networks involving the intimate and sexual exposure of its users;
  • Greater awareness of the effects such activities may have on personal and professional life as well as the effects in terms of extortion and humiliation;
  • The use of these new forms of communication have minimum age for use and that minors should be advised of the consequences of their misuse.

The Judicial Police is continuing its research in order to ascertain the nature and extent of criminal connections concerning these activities.