“Help! I Paid a Sextortionist” – What to Do If You Paid a Sextortionist Featured Image

“Help! I Paid a Sextortionist” – What to Do If You Paid a Sextortionist

If you paid money to a sextortionist, you are not alone, and it’s not your fault. As a victim of this devastating crime, it’s normal to feel panicked, desperate, and ashamed. But there are concrete steps you can take right now to protect yourself and start taking back control. I’m here to guide you through this.

What Should I Do If I Paid A Sextortionist?

If you have paid money to a sextortionist, take these key steps:

  • Stop all communication with the scammer and block them on all platforms.
  • Preserve evidence like screenshots of threats and payment records.
  • Report the crime to your local police and FBI’s IC3.
  • Contact the payment provider to see if you can cancel or dispute the transaction.
  • Adjust your social media privacy settings and use online tools to monitor for your content.
  • Reach out to a victim support hotline for confidential help and guidance.

Remember, you are the victim. Sextortion is a crime, and you are not to blame. Focus on self-care and know that you will get through this.

Understanding Sextortion Scams

Sextortion scams usually start when a scammer poses as a potential romantic interest on dating apps, social media, or webcam sites. They lure the victim into sharing explicit photos or videos, often by sending fake nudes first. Once they have compromising material, they threaten to send it to the victim’s friends, family, or employer unless they pay up.

Scammers typically demand payment in cryptocurrency or wire transfer and keep coming back for more. But it’s important to understand that paying a sextortionist will not guarantee your safety or privacy. In fact, it often makes things worse by showing them you’re willing to comply.

What Are The Warning Signs Of A Sextortion Attempt?

  • The stranger moves the conversation to a private channel extremely quickly
  • Asks for explicit content right away, sometimes in exchange for a “nude photo”
  • Refuses to video chat live or claims their camera is broken
  • Requests intimate images that clearly show your face
  • Usernames and profile pictures don’t match across platforms
  • Threatens to share your intimate content unless you pay money or send more content

How Common Is Sextortion?

Sextortion is a growing threat in the digital age. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), the number of sextortion complaints increased from 13,000 complaints in 2020 to 18,000 in 2021, with losses increasing from $10.8 million in 2020 to $13.6 million in 2021. These numbers likely underestimate the true scope of the problem, as many victims are too afraid or ashamed to come forward.

No one is immune from being targeted by sextortion scams – victims span all ages, genders, and backgrounds. The scammers are highly skilled at exploiting natural human desires for connection and intimacy. They’re compelling in the moment, and there is no shame in falling victim to their schemes.

Immediate Steps to Take After Paying a Sextortionist

Should I Keep Communicating With The Scammer?

No, you should cease all contact with the scammer immediately. I know it’s tempting to beg, negotiate, or argue with them in hopes of stopping the nightmare. However, continuing to engage only gives them more power and leverage. They will keep demanding more money, more content, and more control over you.

The only way to break free is to cut off their access to you. Block their accounts, emails, and phone numbers on every platform. Do not respond to any new attempts to contact you. I promise you that engaging further will not help, even if they threaten to release your images. The scammer is highly unlikely to follow through, as they lose all incentive once they realize they’ve lost their hold over you.

How Do I Preserve Evidence Of The Crime?

Documenting evidence is a critical step, even if you’re not ready to report yet. Having thorough records will be essential for building a strong case and holding the scammer accountable. Here’s how to preserve the evidence safely:

  • Screenshot all correspondence with the scammer, including threats and payment demands. Make sure the screenshots show usernames, dates, and times.
  • Save copies of any intimate images or videos you shared, as well as ones the scammer claims to have. Do not send them to anyone else or upload them anywhere online.
  • Take screenshots of the scammer’s profiles on all relevant platforms (dating apps, social media, forums, etc.).
  • Keep records of any payments made, including screenshots of transactions, receipts, and communications with payment providers.
  • Write down a detailed timeline of events, including dates, times, and methods of communication.
  • Store all this documentation securely in a password-protected file or device. Consider making multiple copies in different secure locations as a backup.

Having well-organized, comprehensive evidence will be vital if you decide to report to law enforcement or pursue legal action.

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

Where Do I Report Sextortion?

Reporting sextortion can feel daunting, but it’s an important step in protecting yourself and preventing the scammer from victimizing others. Start by reporting to:

Your Local Police Department

Call the non-emergency line and explain that you want to report a sextortion crime. Some departments have specialized cybercrime units. If not, they should still take a report and provide you with a case number. Having a formal law enforcement report can be helpful for disputing fraudulent payments and removing any content the scammer posts.

FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)

File a report at ic3.gov, the FBI’s central hub for investigating cyber crimes. They will review your complaint and work with local field offices if necessary.

The Platforms Where the Scammer Contacted You

Most prominent social media sites and dating apps have options to report users for harassment, extortion, or impersonation. Reporting can help shut down the scammer’s accounts.

Relevant Financial Institutions

If you paid the scammer via bank transfer, credit card, or online payment service, contact the relevant institutions to report the fraud and attempt to cancel or dispute the charges.

Can I Get My Money Back If I Paid?

The sooner you act, the better your chances of reversing any payments made to the scammer. If you paid by:

  • Credit card: Contact your card issuer and dispute the charges as fraudulent. You may need to provide documentation of the scam.
  • Debit card: Contact your bank and report the scam. They may be able to reverse the charges if caught quickly enough.
  • Wire transfer: Contact the wire transfer service and your bank immediately. You’ll need to fill out a fraud claim. Reversals are difficult but may be possible if the scammer hasn’t collected the money yet.
  • Cryptocurrency: Unfortunately, crypto payments usually cannot be reversed due to blockchain transactions’ anonymous, decentralized nature. However, it’s still worth contacting the crypto platform you used and reporting the scam.
  • Online payment service (PayPal, Venmo, Cash App, etc): Report the fraudulent transactions to the service as soon as possible. You may be covered by their buyer protection policies.

Be prepared to provide evidence of the scam to support your fraud claims. The payment providers will investigate and determine your eligibility for a refund. While there are no guarantees, it’s always worth attempting to recoup your losses.

How Do I Prevent My Content From Being Shared?

Once you’ve cut off the scammer and reported the crime, take proactive steps to prevent your intimate images or videos from spreading online:

  • Adjust your social media privacy settings to the maximum. Make profiles private, disable public search indexing, and limit who can view, tag, and share your posts.
  • Use reverse image searches (like Google Images or TinEye) and set up Google Alerts for your name to monitor if your content surfaces online. Immediately report any posts to the hosting platforms for removal.
  • Consider enrolling in a paid content removal service or attorney-managed takedown service for expert assistance finding and removing posts.
  • Inform close friends and family about the situation so they can help monitor and report posts. Their support can also be vital for coping with the emotional toll.
  • If you’re under 18, contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (missingkids.org) for help removing sexually explicit content.

The most effective approach is to quickly contain the threat by securing your online presence and enlisting help from law enforcement, legal professionals and trusted loved ones. The scammer is counting on your silence and shame – but you have nothing to be ashamed of. This is not your fault; you don’t have to go through it alone.

How Can I Get Confidential Mental Health Support?

You don’t have to suffer in silence. There are many confidential resources available to support you through the crisis and aftermath of sextortion:

  • Crisis hotlines: Trained counselors provide free, 24/7 support to discuss your situation and connect you with local resources. Try the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK), Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741), or Cyber Civil Rights Initiative Crisis Helpline (844-878-CCRI).
  • Mental health professionals: Consider making an appointment with a therapist, counselor, or psychologist who has experience treating trauma and crime victims. They can help you process the intense emotions and develop healthy coping strategies. Ask your doctor for referrals or search for providers through your insurance.
  • Victim advocacy organizations: These nonprofits offer free legal guidance and emotional support specifically for survivors of cybersexual abuse. Contact Without My Consent, Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, or Thorn for specialized advice and connections to other survivors.
  • Support groups: Joining a support group for sextortion survivors can be incredibly healing. Connecting with others who’ve been through the same thing helps break the isolation and shame. Look for online or in-person groups through the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative or Thorn.

Remember, you deserve support and compassion, not judgment. Reaching out for help is a sign of courage, not weakness.

Is Sextortion Illegal?

Yes, sextortion is illegal under both federal and state laws in the U.S. It’s a severe crime that can carry significant prison sentences and fines. Sextortion typically involves several criminal offenses:

  • Extortion: Threatening to harm someone’s reputation or release private information unless they provide money, property, or services. This is a felony in most states.
  • Stalking: Engaging in a pattern of harassing or threatening conduct that causes fear of personal harm or property damage. Sextortion often involves cyberstalking through electronic communications.
  • Harassment: Sending repeated, unwanted messages to annoy, abuse, or frighten the victim. Many states have specific laws against cyber harassment.
  • Identity theft: Using the victim’s personal information (like social media accounts) without permission to commit fraud or other crimes.
  • Child pornography: Soliciting, possessing, or distributing sexually explicit images of minors under 18. This is a serious federal crime, even if the teenager voluntarily sent the content.

Depending on the specific tactics used, sextortion can also violate federal laws like the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Hobbs Act, and the Obtain Information by Fraud statute.

Moving Forward After Sextortion

Surviving sextortion is a traumatic, overwhelming experience. But as painful as this time is, know that it will not last forever. You have already taken the most important step by reaching out for help and information.

If you need someone to guide you through the next steps, we are here for you at Minc Law. We have extensive experience protecting the rights of sextortion victims and holding perpetrators accountable. We can help you stop sextortionists in their tracks, report them to law enforcement, remove any content from the internet, and explore your legal options in a caring, confidential consultation.

You don’t have to navigate this nightmare alone. Contact us today to learn how we can help you take back your power and privacy. Together, we can turn your survival into your strength.

This page has been peer-reviewed, fact-checked, and edited by qualified attorneys to ensure substantive accuracy and coverage.


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