What to Do If You Are the Target of a Moroccan Sextortion Scam
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Morocco is generally considered the world capital of sextortion—which means that if you are the victim of a Moroccan sextortion scam, you are definitely not alone. If a Moroccan sextortionist is targeting you, we recommend taking the following steps right away:
- Stay calm,
- Do not give in to their demands,
- Stop engaging with the perpetrator,
- Document all communications with the sextortionist,
- Set all of your social media and dating profiles to private,
- Report the threats to the appropriate social media or online platform and/or app,
- Report the threats to Morocco Cyberconfidence Space (if you live in Morocco),
- Report the sextortion to the appropriate law enforcement agency in your country such as the FBI’s IC3 (U.S.A.) or National Crime Agency (U.K.), and
- Reach out to an experienced online sextortion attorney.
At Minc Law, we have proven experience helping international sextortion victims effectively respond to threats. We help targets of sextortion take control of the situation, navigate online platform reporting procedures, and put an end to the threats quickly and quietly.
In this article, we provide helpful information on Moroccan sextortion scams and protecting yourself from international extortionists. We also explain how to respond to threats and reach out to the right authorities to bring perpetrators to justice.
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What Do Moroccan Sextortion Scams Typically Look Like?
No matter your age, gender, or sexual orientation, anyone can be a potential sextortion target. Sextortionsts’ motives are purely financial, which means they look for any victim with the apparent ability to pay a ransom—and who might be coerced into sending explicit material.
Many sextortion scammers operate overseas. There are a handful of countries where sextortion perpetrators are more likely to operate, including:
- Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast),
- Ukraine, and
- The Philippines.
How Prevalent Are Sextortion Scams Originating in Morocco?
In 2016, some cybercrime researchers estimated that 30% of global sextortion cases originated in Morocco—specifically, Oued Zem. This city, near Casablanca, is considered the world capital of sextortion.
Further, it was estimated that 3,000 sextortionists were living in Oued Zem. The city is known for having more than fifty money transfer agencies, which is one reason sextortion scammers may choose to operate there.
How Prevalent Are International Sextortion Scams in the U.S.?
Unfortunately, sextortion is increasingly common in the United States, with many perpetrators operating internationally.
The FBI’s Internet Crimes Complaint Center (IC3) received more than 18,000 sextortion-related complaints in 2021 alone. These victims reported losses of over $13.6 million, and many also reported being pressured into cryptocurrency and other investment scams.
Who Are the Most Common Targets of Moroccan Sextortion Scams?
Because sextortion scammers will target anyone willing to engage with them, everyone is a potential target.
However, a potential victim may appear more enticing to a sextortionist if they meet any or all of the following criteria:
- They have a spouse or family, making them more likely to want to hide any online exploits;
- They seem to have a good job or are well-off enough to pay a ransom; and
- They have not set their social media profiles to private and openly share personal information online.
While many scammers target victims with spouses and families, they may also be drawn to isolated victims. Young military service members are attractive to sextortionists because they may be more likely to feel alone and vulnerable or seek out companionship. Similarly, sextortion cases increased during the Covid-19 lockdowns when more people felt lonely and isolated.
How Do Moroccan Sextortion Scams Happen?
Most commonly, Moroccan sextortion schemes begin on dating sites and social media platforms. These scenarios generally include webcam sextortion and blackmail, while others involve bitcoin extortion and email phishing.
Sextortion scams originating in Morocco typically follow the same pattern as scams that take place elsewhere. Nearly all sextortionists use the strategies listed below—but many scammers are creative, so if your encounter does not follow this exact pattern, it does not mean you are not being sextorted.
The Sextortionist Uses an Account or Profile of an Attractive Stranger
First, the scammer builds a profile on a social media platform or dating site. They use attractive images to entice strangers to accept friend requests and engage with them. They may also use a local address in their profile to make it seem genuine.
Then, they begin sending friend requests to their potential victims. When a victim accepts, the sextortionist strikes up a conversation—which quickly turns flirtatious and sexual.
The Sextortionist Attempts to Move the Conversation to a Different Platform
In our experience at Minc Law, sextortionists only use social media sites and dating apps to meet victims. They then almost always try to switch to another communication method like Google Messenger, Whatsapp, or Facetime.
They may promise to send nude photos or videos of themselves as an encouragement to move to the other platform.
The Sextortionist Turns the Conversation Sexual, Encouraging the Victim to Share Intimate Photos or Videos
Then, the scammer attempts to seduce their victim and convince them to send explicit content.
Perhaps they promise, “I will show you mine if you show me yours.” Or, they initiate a sexual video call where the victim believes they are interacting with a real person. In reality, those videos or photos are likely pre-recorded and/or stolen from other sources.
The Sextortionist Threatens to Publish or Distribute the Sensitive Images or Videos
Once the perpetrator has explicit images of their victim, the nice act is over. They claim to have saved copies of the media, and if the victim does not pay a ransom, the sextortionist will share that content with the victim’s friends and family. They may share a screenshot of the victim’s social media account or friends list.
Some Moroccan sextortion scammers also claim to be underage and threaten to report their victims to law enforcement if they do not pay a ransom. Others do not start with extortion at all, appealing to their victims’ emotions by claiming to have a sick relative or child who needs money.
If the Victim Pays, the Sextortionist Will Not Stop Demanding More Money
In the moment, it may seem that the victim’s only option is to pay the ransom. But perpetrators rarely stop harassing their victims after their first demands are met. In our experience, sextortionists only become bolder if they find a victim who pays the ransom. They are more likely to keep coming back asking for more payment than to leave you alone.
How to Protect Yourself Against Moroccan Sextortion Attempts & Scams
There are several ways you can proactively protect yourself from the threat of sextortion—whether it originates in Morocco or elsewhere. For anyone who spends time online, it is a good idea to learn the red flags that indicate you might be interacting with a scammer or extortionist.
In this section, we provide tips for avoiding sextortion scams and list a few legal protections against Moroccan sextortionists.
What Steps Can You Take to Prevent Becoming a Victim of Moroccan Sextortion Scams?
To limit the chances of being victimized by a Moroccan sextortionist or scammer online, we recommend keeping the following tips in mind:
- Limit the personal information you share online,
- Be cautious of new online connections,
- Avoid sending intimate content to strangers,
- Be cautious engaging with others online when in a vulnerable state,
- Avoid opening links or attachments from internet users you do not know,
- Steer clear of suggestions to move a conversation to another platform,
- Review and follow suggestions on dating apps,
- Turn off all electronic devices when you are not using them, and
- If you are a parent, educate your children about internet safety practices.
Limit the Personal Information You Share Online
The more information you share about yourself publicly, the easier it will be for con artists to gain leverage over you. Be selective with what you share on your social media accounts and dating platforms, and maximize your social media privacy settings so that only your close friends can see information about you.
Be Cautious of New Online Connections
It is easy to create a fake profile on most social media and dating platforms. Always practice caution when accepting new friend requests or answering direct messages from strangers.
Before engaging with a stranger, review their profile and look for red flags. Even if the profile appears legitimate, proceed with caution—and always assume new connections may not be who they say they are.
To learn more about the most common red flags to be aware of in social media profiles, see our article: How to Report Sextortion.
Do Not Send Intimate Content to Strangers
The best way to avoid being sextorted online is never to send intimate photos or videos of yourself online or over text. Even if you trust the recipient now, you may have a falling-out—or their cloud may be hacked.
If it is not practical to completely avoid sending explicit content online, you may want to consider using a pseudonym when on dating sites. This strategy helps protect your privacy if you run into a scammer who tries to hold your explicit content over your head.
Be Cautious Engaging Strangers Online When in a Vulnerable State
It is essential to have your wits about you when navigating the internet, which can be a dangerous place. Avoid engaging with strangers online when you are emotionally vulnerable, such as after a few drinks or if you have recently gone through a breakup.
Do Not Open Links or Attachments From People You Do Not Know
Another good rule of thumb for protecting yourself online is to avoid opening attachments or clicking on links from unknown sources. Many attachments contain malware and viruses, which allow scammers to hack your webcam or gather information about you.
Avoid Suggestions to Move the Conversation to a Different Platform
While meeting a new friend on a dating platform or social media site can be exciting, do not get carried away. It should be an immediate red flag if a new connection asks you to move to another platform like your private cell phone, FaceTime, or WhatsApp. They are likely hoping to record your conversation and scam you.
Review & Follow Suggestions on Dating Apps
Most dating apps and sites—including Tinder, Grindr, Hinge, Adam4Adam, and Ashley Madison—provide privacy and safety recommendations for users. To ensure your dating app experience is as safe and positive as possible, review and follow these tips before using the platform.
Turn off Your Electronic Devices When You Are Not Using Them
Some hackers access devices and webcams to record intimate moments or learn information about you. To protect your and your family’s privacy, make it a habit to turn off your devices and cover your webcams when you are not using them.
If You Are A Parent, Discuss Privacy Issues With Your Child
Unfortunately, adults are not the only potential victims of sextortion and other online privacy scams. Parents and educators should make their children aware of basic internet privacy practices.
Further, parents should tell their children that if anyone exhibits predatory behavior or asks for sexually explicit content, they should tell a trusted adult immediately.
Are There Any Legal Protections to Help Address Sextortion in Morocco?
Morocco’s penal code punishes sexual extortionists with 1-5 years in prison. Moroccan judges can also refer to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime for additional support in formulating a sentence against perpetrators.
And in early 2022, the Moroccan Ministry of Justice announced that it was working to introduce new legislation targeting cyber crimes. This legislation is especially aimed at protecting women and children.
How Likely Are Moroccan Sextortionists to Follow Through on Their Threats?
If you are the target of a sextortionist, it is easy to feel powerless and boxed in. Understandably, it may feel like you have no option but to do what a sextortionist tells you.
But the truth may not be that simple. In fact, most sextortionists never follow through on their threats.
While some determined sextortionists see their threats through (especially if they have a personal vendetta against their victim), most do not believe this behavior is worth the risks. After all, once they publish the intimate content, they lose their leverage over you. Additionally, sharing this content may only draw the attention of law enforcement.
Still, in the rare case that the sextortionist does publish the sensitive content—or if you are still worried that they might—we list a few tips for dealing with a Moroccan sextortion attack below.
Please see our comprehensive guide by paralegal Darcy Buxton answering ‘Do sextortionists follow through?’
How to Deal With a Moroccan Sextortion Scam
Being the target of sextortion can be stressful and overwhelming—but you are not without options. Do not let the perpetrator bully or scare you into meeting their demands; remember, they are the ones committing a crime.
What Are the First Steps to Respond to a Moroccan Sextortion Scam?
Whether the perpetrator is operating from Morocco or anywhere else around the globe, we recommend the following steps to respond to a sextortion scam:
When you receive threats and harassment from a predator, it is natural to feel frightened and panicked. But if possible, try to remain calm. Not only will panicking stop you from acting with a clear head, but if the sextortionist senses your fright, it will give them more power over you.
Do Not Pay the Ransom Demanded By the Sextortionist
It may feel like your only option is to give in to the perpetrator’s demands. But do not believe them when they promise to stop the harassment if you pay them. Once you show that you can be manipulated, the sextortionist will likely keep asking for more money.
Stop Engaging With the Perpetrator
Stop replying to the sextortionist’s messages right away. You may want to block them on every platform they have used to contact you as well—but not before saving evidence of the extortion.
Document All Communications With the Sextortionist
It is crucial to preserve all evidence of your communications with the perpetrator. Take screenshots of all messages and images, save copies of any videos, and preserve as many details about the sextortionist’s profile and contact information as possible. This evidence may be essential for stopping the harassment and bringing legal action.
Secure All Social Media & Dating Profiles
Sextortionists often scour their victims’ online profiles for information they can use as leverage. One way to limit your appeal as a target is to limit what strangers can see about you online. Set your social and dating profiles to private so only your close friends can view your profile and posts.
Report the Sextortion Attempt to the Appropriate App or Online Platform
Reach Out to an Experienced Online Sextortion Attorney
An online sextortion attorney can help you take charge of your situation, protect your online image, and remove any harmful content the sextortionist may have published about you. They can also advise you on your legal options and help you report the crime to law enforcement to bring the perpetrator to justice.
For further reading, please see our comprehensive resource explaining where to turn for sextortion help. If you are a parent and your child is under 18, make sure to read our guide explaining what to do if you are the target of minor sextortion.
Where Can I Report Sextortionists Operating Out of Morocco?
The best place to report sextortion is the local authorities in your own country. If you are located in Morocco, you can report the crime to Morocco Cyberconfidence Space, which provides a tipline as well as resources and support for victims.
If you do not live in Morocco, you should report the crime to local or national law enforcement. The top agencies in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Europe include:
- FBI Internet Crimes Complaint Center (United States),
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (United States),
- National Crime Agency (United Kingdom),
- Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (United Kingdom),
- Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (Canada),
- eSafety Commissioner (Australia),
- Europol (European countries).
You can also report sextortion to international law enforcement agencies like INTERPOL, which has a National Center Bureau coordinating criminal investigations in Morocco with other countries.
What Should I Do If I Have Already Paid Them?
If you paid the sextortionist or met their other demands before reading this article, you still have options. From now on, cut off all contact with the scammer—and do not pay them any more money.
Also, it may not be too late to stop the first money transfer if it is still in progress.
Typically, international scammers use money transfer platforms like Venmo, PayPal, Western Union, and Zelle. We recommend contacting the transfer site and your bank for help canceling your transaction before it is finalized. It may not be too late to cancel the money transfer since many international extortionists opt to pick up the cash in person.
How Sextortion Attorneys Can Help If You Are the Victim of a Moroccan Scam
Being targeted and harassed by a sextortionist is a scary and overwhelming experience. An experienced sextortion attorney can help take control of the situation and provide you with much-needed peace of mind.
What Are the Key Benefits of Working With a Sextortion Attorney?
In an international sextortion scam, your legal options may be limited for bringing the perpetrator to justice—but an attorney can advise you on the best way to resolve the situation.
While in many cases it is advisable to contact law enforcement, it does come with the risk of creating a public record of an incident you would rather keep private. You may want to consult with an attorney before contacting the police—especially if you know the perpetrator in real life or if any money or potential unlawful behavior was involved.
Experienced sextortion attorneys can offer sound legal advice and help you avoid giving up your hard-earned money out of fright. They can also take over communication with the scammer and law enforcement, preserve evidence, identify anonymous scammers, and remove damaging content from the internet.
A lawyer who specializes in reputation management and digital risk protection can also help you by monitoring and warding off any future digital attacks.
How Can You Find an Attorney That Handles Sextortion?
If a sextortionist targets you from another country, it can feel like you have no recourse. An experienced sextortion attorney can help you devise a strategy for protecting your reputation and privacy regardless of where your harasser is located.
Legal teams experienced with sextortion matters also understand laws—both domestic and international—relating to sextortion. They know which law enforcement agencies to contact and have experience navigating various platforms’ reporting procedures. They should also have proven experience removing harmful and unwanted content from the internet.
The best resources for finding the right attorney for your needs include:
- Your local bar association;
- Popular attorney directories like Lawyers.com, Avvo, and Martindale-Hubbell;
- Referrals from friends, family, and co-workers; and
- A Google search for “extortion attorney” or “sextortion attorney.”
When visiting a prospective lawyer’s website, look for positive online reviews from past clients. The attorney should also have helpful and knowledgeable resources on their site for potential clients dealing with sextortion.
We Can Help You Deal With Morocco Sextortion Scams
If you have been targeted by a sextortionist operating out of Morocco, our legal team can help. At Minc Law, we have extensive experience working with law enforcement to end harmful activity from international extortionists.
We can provide a judgment-free, supportive presence during this stressful time—and we can advise you on your best legal options for resolving your matter quickly and discreetly.
“Trust me, you don’t want to get into these messes, but I feel a lot more at ease having spoken with the kind folks here at Minc Law. It really won’t hurt to call and assess your options.”
Jan 26, 2022
If you are a victim of a Moroccan sextortion scam or need to remove sensitive content from the internet, contact us at (216) 373-7706 or via our online contact form. If you are a fit for our sextortion services, we offer emergency paid consultations with one of our sextortion attorneys for $500.
If you are a minor or cannot afford a consultation, we have countless resources on our website to learn more about sextortion—and if you have questions, please call and talk to our team in a judgment-free space, especially if you really need support.
Ghita Benslimane. Moroccan City of Oued Zem Named World Capital of Sextortion. Morocco World News (2016).
Yahia Hatim. Morocco Records Over 300 Cases of Sexual Blackmail, Online Scams in 2019 Moroccan World News (2019).