X-rated scam targeting young Aussie men: ‘Ruthless’

Scammers have taken to social media platforms to coerce young men into sexual-extortion scams.

·3-min read
A composite image of a person using social media on an iPhone and a young man using his computer to represent social media scams.
Young Aussies are being targeted by scammers through social media. (Source: AAP / Getty)

Young Aussie men are being lured by scammers on social media and manipulated into sending sexually explicit photos of themselves, only to be blackmailed.

The Australian government’s eSafety commission revealed sexual-extortion scams had tripled in the first quarter of this year.

eSafety commissioner Julie Inman Grant said the number of sexual-extortion reports increased from almost 600 in the first quarter of 2022 to more than 1,700 in the first quarter of this year.

“The majority of these reports - almost 1,200 - were from young people between 18 and 24 years, and 90 per cent of all reports were from males,” Inman Grant said.

“Thousands of Australians are coming to us in crisis as blackmailers threaten to send their sexual images or videos to family, friends, and colleagues unless they pay up.”

Inman Grant said the cost to young people was not just financial, with many suffering “deep distress”.

How does the scam work?

Inman Grant said scammers made contact on social media services like Snapchat and Instagram and proceeded to turn the conversation sexual.

“These criminals are well-versed in the dark arts of manipulation and coercion, often sending their targets very explicit content to encourage compliance and win trust, but the content is fake,” she said.

“They’re also ruthless but targeted in their demands, applying more and more pressure to people who respond to their threats.

“If you pay once, they keep coming back with more demands. And because they’re mainly based overseas it’s virtually impossible for people to get their money back.”

What to do if you have been scammed

Inman Grant said anyone who had been targeted by the scam shouldn’t feel ashamed and needed to report it right away.

“We need to educate young people, especially young men, to be very wary of attractive strangers approaching them out of the blue who get sexual straight away,” she said.

“There’s a big risk it's an impersonator account being managed by organised crime, looking to blackmail that young person once they share sexual content.”

Anyone who finds themselves being blackmailed online after sharing sexual content should:

  • Screenshot the threats and user profile

  • Record the user profile URL

  • Report the scam to the social media platform

  • Block the account

  • Never engage with or pay the scammer

In cases where the images or videos were shared, report it to eSafety.gov.au.

“Our investigators can help get that content quickly removed through our image-based abuse scheme. If you’re under 18, report this serious crime to specialist investigators at the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation,” Inman Grant said.

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