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How to Avoid Cheating & Escort Scams

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Being victimized by extortion is a very traumatizing experience no matter the circumstances which leads to unwanted harassment and malicious threats of exposure. Causing their victims to experience trauma is the goal of the criminals who perpetrate these schemes, and they are always searching for more effective ways to exasperate the despair.

The latest trend we are observing is the specific targeting of victims whose fears extend not just to the embarrassment of their intimate images being disseminated but to the circumstances under which the perpetrators obtained the images.

The reality is that nothing about the circumstances of the initial encounter alters the illegality and criminal nature of the extortion. Nor does it materially change the strategies for how to effectively deal with extortion.

In this article, we discuss how and why extortion schemes work, how they have evolved, tips to avoid falling victim to extortion, and where to seek assistance if you are victimized by extortion.

The Fastest Growing Extortion Breeding Grounds: Ashley Madison, Seeking Arrangement, Back List, & Back Page

Increasingly over the past year, our team of attorneys at Minc Law has handled more and more extortions which involve the victim being initially hooked while visiting a website for infidelity, such as or, or escort services like or Criminals are now lurking like sharks on those websites, creating and operating too many fake profiles for the platforms to effectively police.

The perpetrators connect with and “catfish” their victims, who are often either married or in a committed relationship, with flirtatious messages and provocative images. They then request that you reciprocate and/or engage in a video chat during which sexual acts will be performed (and secretly recorded).

The aim is always to obtain compromising material and then use it to extort the victim. The end goal is of course to obtain money payments, and their demands are obviously more effective when the victim has much more at stake than just the public humiliation of intimate images being posted to the Internet.

In the circumstances of an affair website, it goes without saying that the victim will be concerned about his or her marriage. When an escort service website is involved, that concern may extend to the prospect of some sort of criminal liability.

These concerns lead to panic, the panic leads to desperation, and the desperation leads to a willingness to do anything to make it all stop, including foolishly giving in to the demands for money payments in exchange for false assurances that safe harbor will be granted. When that happens, the extortionists know they have you and will sink their hooks in even deeper.

How & Why Extortion Schemes Work

No matter the circumstances, victims of online extortion are often overcome with a toxic mixture of strong emotions – shame, fear, panic, confusion, helplessness – which are weaponized by those seeking to extract money payments. All of that is greatly exasperated when the initial contact with the perpetrator is not what can be described as innocent.

The victims of extortion have very few common identifiable traits. They come from a diverse array of ethnic backgrounds and geographic locations and are engaged in various professions. Our team of attorneys at Minc Law have represented people from all walks of life who have fallen victim to the same malicious scam.

The perpetrators are also a diverse bunch. Countless cells around the globe, all operating independently of any centralized control, follow the same general blueprint. They do so because it works. And, as it continually proves to be incredibly effective and profitable, the tactics are only becoming more distressing and the victims less random.

extortion occurs when demands for something of value are made under threat of publishing or otherwise sharing explicit images or other intimate information of a sexual nature.

While it can come in a multitude of forms, the garden variety extortion typically begins when you meet a stranger online, most commonly through social media, a messaging app, or an online dating website.

The conversation quickly turns flirtatious. Excessive flattery is used to elicit either nude photographs, explicit video, and/or sexually suggestive messages from you. Once that compromising material is obtained, the flirtation ends and the extortion begins. They threaten to publish or otherwise share your intimate images, video, or other private information unless you comply with their ransom demands. Many people panic and pay with false assurances of deletion, but quickly learn that doing so only encourages more threats and demands.

Before you even realize you are being extorted, the perpetrators have likely already done their research on you. They have learned where you live and work, your marital or relationship status, and other information they intend to weaponize. One of their favorite tactics is to take screenshots of your friends lists on Facebook, Instagram, etc.

The scheme’s success is entirely dependent on your fear and panic, as well as your ability to pay. There are two traits in victims which these criminals are looking for above all else: vulnerability and capability. Their plan fails if their victims are not both vulnerable to their threats and capable of paying their demands. Those victims who demonstrate both traits earn the strong focus and attention of the perpetrators of the scheme.

Many victims of extortion, for a variety of reasons, are understandably not able to process and effectively deal with the predicament in which they find themselves. But yet they are too embarrassed to seek support. The perpetrators target this vulnerability and aim to compound the emotional trauma through repeated and seemingly never-ending threatening messages and phone calls. The victim panics and pays the demands, desperate for the pain to end.

Then the cycle starts all over again.

Our society has sadly already experienced several suicides as a direct result of extortion, including several minors. Every intake specialist and attorney at Minc Law can attest to the genuine trauma being experienced by the people who contact us desperately in search of assistance.

How Extortion Schemes Have Evolved

Despite extensive media coverage and much greater public awareness, the online extortion epidemic shows no signs of slowing down. If anything, the frequency has increased over the past year as society comes out of the COVID-19 lockdowns which originally caused a very noticeable and sharp spike in reported incidents.

Extortion schemes certainly existed before the pandemic but absolutely exploded in frequency and effectiveness as most of the world was locked down and more and more people came to rely on the Internet for human interaction. While media coverage and public awareness concurrently increased, the schemes through which it is perpetrated have continued to evolve.

Just a few years ago, most extortion schemes arose out of seemingly innocent online contacts which, in a classic bait and switch, would turn flirtatious. Common baits were friend requests on Facebook from strangers, follows on Twitter, or even a “wrong number” text. The victim would make initial contact without any overt indication of sexual interest, although the conversation would eventually turn its focus to that.

There always was a risk for the perpetrator in coming on too strong and too fast, scaring their target away. While most men may realize that something is amiss when an attractive woman who is a stranger wants to connect with them on social media, most also believe they are not gullible enough to fall victim to one of these schemes and do not adequately safeguard themselves. Most victims we speak to are still in shock that they fell victim to and are now caught in a situation they have read about but never contemplated would actually happen to them.

Extortion is an incredibly elementary, yet incredibly effective scheme. Everyone is susceptible.

New Extortion Trends We Are Seeing at Minc Law

Our team at Minc Law has represented various victims, including successful and highly educated CEOs, medical doctors, other attorneys, and even online reputation management experts. The perpetrators do tend to target people they believe to be sophisticated because those victims are more likely to have something to lose and, just as critically, they have the means and ability to pay. But just like the “smart fish” in the pond, they may be more reluctant to bite at the bait, especially when the scenario is too good to be true. That translated to a need for the perpetrators to be very careful in their tact and requires more patience in their approach.

But now the perpetrators of Extortion have found a method to cut out that initial bait and switch by targeting platforms on which the victim is very intentionally seeking an encounter of a sexual nature. When initial contact is made on websites such as,,, or, there is no need to slowly walk the victim into an exchange of intimate images or “incriminating” messages. Indeed, sexting images and sending raunchy messages is to be expected.

Another related trend is that the person in the profile pictures may not be a “10” on the attractiveness scale. She (or he) will certainly be attractive to some degree, but not to the point that any reciprocal interest is out of the question. In other words, she (or he) will tend to be “in your league.” The perpetrators of this scheme like to impersonate an online personality (oftentimes an OnlyFans or Instagram “model”) who has a lot of photographs and other media available online to the public but is not well known enough to be recognized by an average member of the public.

They will often set up multiple user accounts, credibly impersonating the same person while fishing for their victims. Our investigations have uncovered some operations in which stolen pictures of the same model are used on dozens of dating and escort websites, sometimes in various countries and languages, all with different names and biographical information.

Tips to Avoid Falling Victim to Cheating & Escort Service Extortion Scams

Keep Your Guard Up

Specific to the schemes discussed in this article, it is critical to keep your guard up. There are plenty of websites and online platforms dedicated to making connections for consensual sexual interactions.

But those websites do little to police their own platforms and fake profiles, created for nefarious purposes, tend to be found in abundance.

Avoid Sharing Intimate or Explicit Content

Do not share anything explicit of yourself until you have a live interaction with the individual on the receiving end. Preferably, that interaction is in person. But if it is through a video conference, be sure it is an actual live interaction and not a recording.

And, if you take nothing else from this article, if her microphone is broken, end the video immediately.

Trust Your Instincts

As exciting and exhilarating as it may seem, if the individual is showering you with compliments right away and pleading with you to go somewhere private so you can take and send pictures or video of yourself, this is a major red flag. In salesperson speak, they are trying to “close the deal” and they want to do it fast so they can move on to their next lead. Do not fall for the flattery.

Restrict Your Online Privacy Settings

Beyond strategically dealing with each encounter, steps can be taken to safeguard yourself with some easy steps anyone should follow. Restricting your privacy settings on social media is never a bad idea. Set your preferences so that only friends can view your friends list and so that no one can tag you in a post without your approval for it to appear on your timeline.

There are many other common-sense settings which, once implemented, will deprive any would-be extortionists of their favorite weapons.

Where to Seek Assistance If Victimized By an Escort or Infidelity Extortion Scam

Several government agencies will receive reports of extortion and other online crimes. Options for reporting extortion and helpful educational resources may be found at:

  • The FBI’s Internet Crimes Complaint Center (IC3),
  • Canadian Centre for Cybersecurity,
  • National Crime Agency (UK), and
  • Your local law enforcement agency.

Of course, a variety of factors can dictate how much attention any given report may receive and the speed with which any responsive action is deployed. For instance, victims who are minors certainly have to be prioritized.

If nothing else, your reporting of the incident should contribute to a growing database which someday may be used to more effectively combat, and even possibly prevent, extortion. We therefore consider it a good public service to report extortion, in all of its forms, to the proper law enforcement agencies.

In addition to government resources, many non-profit organizations are dedicated to educating the public about the risks of extortion and providing some level of assistance. Many of these nonprofits collaborate with law enforcement to make sure victims receive proper support.

Some of the most prominent non-profits providing extortion assistance services and/or resources include:

  • Cyber Civil Rights Initiative,
  • Thorn,
  • Without My Consent (WMC),
  • Polaris Project,
  • Attorney General’s Cyber Exploitation Task Force,
  • Thinkuknow,
  • Samaritans,
  • Crash Override,
  • HeartMob,
  • Revenge Porn Helpline,
  • PAPYRUS, and
  • Get Safe Online.

We commonly recommend our clients enlist the help of StopNCII, which is a service offering a user-friendly platform and helpful tools and resources to victims of non-consensual intimate image abuse.

While all of these government and non-profit resources are available, private for-profit services can offer a level of service and urgency many extortion victims desperately seek. But be very cautious. While there are certainly many highly ethical for-profit services that valuably assist extortion victims, there are an alarmingly high number of services that take advantage of their client’s pain and distress to maximize their own profit.

We strongly recommend that you only work with a licensed and regulated professional when seeking extortion assistance services. That means that the individual you hire should be licensed within a profession and subject to oversight by a regulatory body.

For further reading, please see our comprehensive guide explaining ‘The Key Red Flags of Sextortion Assistance Services’.

We Can Help You Address Escort & Cheating Extortion Scams

At Minc Law, we fully understand how overwhelming and stressful it is to be the victim of extortion. We strive to give all extortion victims comfort and empathetic aid, providing several options on how to proceed.

Some of these options will involve retaining us (or another reputable service) beyond the consultation and other options which will not require any further expense on your part.

We have helped hundreds of extortion victims address this extremely private and sensitive situation. Every one of our clients who are victims of extortion have been successfully guided to safe harbor.


“I was unfortunately a victim of an online extortion scam. After a few weeks of torture, I found Minc Law online. I called them directly and scheduled a consultation meeting with attorney Daniel A Powell. Working with Daniel was smooth as he was very responsive and supportive as well. Daniel and the rest of the Minc Law team took my complaints seriously and understood my emotional state. They were very compassionate when talking with me and understood how to work with people. Daniel and his team dealt with my situation swiftly and resolved my problems within the week. I highly recommend Minc Law and Daniel to anyone who unfortunately got caught in a situation like mine.”


January 1, 2022

If you are a fit for our extortion assistance services, you will be scheduled for a paid ($500 fee) emergency consultation with one of our attorneys. We will advise you of your risk level and provide recommendations based on the information the attorney is able to review and discuss during the consultation.

Are you being defamed online? We will get it removed. Contact Minc Law today!

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