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How Long Does Sextortion Last?

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When you are a victim of sextortion attacks and threats, it may feel like it will continue forever. But how long does sextortion typically last?

Sextortionists may typically harass their victims for several days to several weeks. In most cases, sextortionists are playing a numbers game. They target multiple victims simultaneously, waiting for just a few to fall into their trap. Cutting off all communication with the perpetrator may help speed up the process, since, oftentimes, the more you engage with a sextortionist, the more they will continue to threaten you.

At Minc Law, we have helped hundreds of sextortion victims like you fight back against harassment and intimidation. We know how to resolve these overwhelming situations as quickly as possible—without drawing unnecessary attention. Our highly skilled legal team can take over communication with the perpetrator, work to prevent the release of harmful images, and help avoid drawing unwanted attention to the matter.

It is not imperative to hire an attorney or third party to assist with sextortion; however, having an experienced professional on your side can provide strategic and invaluable support to help you navigate this scary situation.

In this article, we provide an in-depth guide to the typical sextortion process and how long it generally lasts for victims. We then provide actionable tips for responding to and preventing sextortion in the future.

How Long Does Sextortion Last?

Sextortion is typically a fast-moving matter. The first few days are the hardest—since that is when the scammer is trying to scare their victim into paying.

In this section, we provide information on what to expect from the sextortion process and how long it typically lasts.

How Long Do Sextortion Attacks Last?

Typically, sextortion attacks begin moments after capturing the image or video; they do not waste time. Sextortionists are aggressive and usually work in teams, so while you are talking to one person, another scammer is searching your social media profiles and gaining intel on you to use against you. They search for information like a list of your family and friends, if you are married, and where you work.

The first few hours are often the scariest. Sextortionists use fear to control you; they want you scared, and they want you to pay them.

But that is the worst thing to do—because once you pay them, they will just keep coming back. Others on their team may begin harassing you to pay them. Some sextortionists even set their victims up on payment plans—but the catch is that there is no end to these arrangements. They will take you for everything you have and then some.

Typically, without intervention from an attorney, the sextortionist will harass you for a few days to a few weeks. The length of time depends on how many victims they are targeting at the same time. Stopping all communication with the perpetrator will help speed up the process since the more you negotiate or lead them on, the more time they will be willing to spend on you.

Reaching out for help is key to getting your life back to normal quickly. Once our attorneys at Minc Law get involved, for instance, we can take over the communication and guide you in locking down your social media accounts. We force the extortioner to communicate with us instead of their victim—and we make it clear that it is in their best interests to disappear.

It may take you months to feel safe and secure online. Online monitoring services such as Google Alerts or digital risk protection can help you feel at ease while cultivating and managing your digital presence.

Sextortion is not something you should go through alone. If you choose to handle sextortion without an attorney, we recommend confiding in someone you trust. Some counselors specialize in supporting victims of sextortion or other sexual trauma. You can also consult online resources the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (if you are a minor), Thorn, and the Sextortion subreddit.

Will a Sextortionist Actually Follow Through on Their Threats?

It is easy to feel powerless as a sextortion victim. Sextortionists are experts at intimidation tactics, making you feel as if your only option is to do what they say.

Video: What Are the Chances a Sextortionist Releases My Intimate Images & Videos?

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But your options may not be as limited as it appears. Some determined scammers will make good on their threat to publish the explicit content—but the overwhelming majority of sextortionists never follow through.

If you give the sextortionist what they are asking for, you show them that their threats work on you. This reaction will only embolden their behavior.

A sextortionist will never stop threatening or demanding money from you if you pay them. We recommend reading our comprehensive article answering ‘Do sextortionists follow through?’ for further information.

Do Sextortionists Move On?

Many sextortion schemes—such as email phishing scams—are purely numbers games. Perpetrators send hundreds or thousands of sextortion emails, hoping that just one person will be gullible enough to believe them. It is likely an empty threat, so the best thing to do is simply ignore it. Delete the sextortion email, change your password, and do not respond or pay the ransom.

For more traditional sextortion—such as social media or dating app sextortion—perpetrators cast a very wide net and target several victims at once. If you ignore their threats, they will likely move on to another, better prospect.

It may seem counterintuitive to ignore threats from an online extortionist or harasser. But engaging further will likely worsen your situation by showing you can be manipulated. Cutting off contact, on the other hand, helps remove the power dynamic.

At the end of the day, this is a game to them—and when they realize you will not play, they will likely move on and find another victim.

What to Do if You Are Being Sextorted

If a sextortionist has targeted you, it is natural to feel panicked and unsure how to react. While your first instinct may be to pay the ransom and hope the scammer disappears, that method may make the harassment worse.

In this section, we provide six actionable tips for dealing with a sextortionist effectively.

Cease Communication With the Scammer

First, stop responding to the sextortionist. Do not reply to their messages, and do not pay them.

It may seem like your only option is to pay the ransom, but meeting the extortionist’s demands does not guarantee they will leave you alone. Engaging with a sextortionist only shows that you can be manipulated—so they are just as likely to come back asking for more money.

Preserve All Evidence of Communications With the Sextortionist

Your first instinct may be to delete all messages and material the scammer sent you. But deleting this documentation just makes it harder to bring them to justice. Reporting the harassment to the authorities—and bringing a successful legal claim—requires tangible evidence.

Lock Down Social Media Accounts

Most sextortionists research their victims’ social media accounts to find leverage. They look for a list of your friends and family, contact information, and place of employment.

Protect your online footprint by maximizing the privacy settings on all of your online accounts. If a sextortionist has already targeted you, block them (after saving screenshots of your messages with them). Blocking them prevents them from harassing you further or seeing important information about you.

Some sextortionists create multiple accounts to harass their victims, so blocking them may not be good enough. In this case, you may consider deleting your profile(s) completely until the matter is resolved.

Report the Sextortionist to the Relevant Platforms

If a sextortionist has targeted you on social media or a dating app, you can report their criminal activity to the platform. All major social platforms prohibit unlawful activity and online harassment—meaning sextortion is against the website’s Terms of Service.

You can usually find reporting procedures and removal request forms under the platform in question’s Privacy Policy or Community Guidelines page. If you cannot find a reporting process, it may be best to email the website directly.

Reporting a sextortionist does more than stop them from harassing you; if the platform suspends their account, they cannot harass other victims, either. Account suspension is one of the biggest inconveniences to a sextortionist since they spend a great deal of time building a follower count and curating a profile.

Report the Sextortionist to Law Enforcement Agencies

Next, you may want to report the sextortion to the proper legal authorities. Aside from your local law enforcement, the following federal and international agencies handle cybercrime and related complaints:

  • Your local FBI field office,
  • The Internet Crimes Complaint Center (IC3),
  • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), and
  • INTERPOL.

To learn more about proper reporting methods, see our comprehensive piece: How to Report Sextortion (Webcam Blackmail).

Reach Out to an Experienced Sextortion Attorney

Online blackmail and sextortion are very complicated and nuanced areas of law. Since each state’s laws define and regulate sextortion differently, it can be difficult to know how to hold perpetrators accountable.

If you are a victim of online sextortion, an experienced internet attorney can advise you on the best legal strategy for your specific matter. They can save you valuable time and effort by combating online harassment quickly and discreetly.

Experienced sextortion attorneys can communicate with harassers on your behalf, remove harmful content from the internet, identify anonymous scammers, and advocate for your best interests.

You do not always need to hire legal representation or a third party to help you combat sextortion. However, working with an experienced sextortion attorney can help alleviate some of the stress and confusion about how to handle this delicate situation. Please see our resource explaining where to turn for sextortion help for further reading.

Compassionate Advocates Who Can Help You Tackle Sextortion Head-On

At Minc Law, we understand just how devastating and stressful being targeted by a sextortionist can be. We have extensive experience helping take control of sextortion situations and communications with perpetrators, providing actionable and objective advice on how to best handle them, and monitoring the internet for further attacks.

Video: Common Questions About Sextortion & Online Extortion Legal Services Explained

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In cases where intimate content or media is published on the internet, we can help remove them – all without drawing unwanted attention to the situation.

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“I highly recommend the Minc Law firm. Not only were they knowledgeable, professional and timely in resolving my matter, but they were a pleasure to work with. Dan, Darcy and Melanie thank you for everything! My only regret was not engaging the firm earlier.”

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Oct 4, 2021

We offer paid sextortion consults with one of Minc Law’s experienced internet attorneys for $500. If you are the target of sextortion and would like to explore your options to put an end to it, schedule your consultation today by calling us at (216) 373-7706, speaking with a Chat representative, or filling out our online contact form.

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