Being the target of Snapchat blackmail can be isolating and overwhelming. You may feel like you have nowhere to turn—but that is not true. You are the victim here, and despite what the perpetrator wants you to think, there are ways to fight back against Snapchat blackmailers.
If you are being blackmailed on Snapchat, we recommend taking the following steps:
- Avoid engaging with the perpetrator,
- Do not try to negotiate or pay the ransom,
- Preserve all communication and evidence of the blackmail,
- Adjust your online privacy settings,
- Create alerts to notify you of online mentions,
- Report the blackmailer on Snapchat,
- Report the crime to law enforcement, and
- Contact an experienced blackmail attorney.
At Minc Law, we have proven experience helping blackmail victims prevent and respond to online harassment. We help victims of this invasive and distressing crime identify anonymous perpetrators, report blackmail to online platforms, and remove unwanted and harmful content.
In this article, we explain how Snapchat blackmail works and how it impacts victims. Then, we provide actionable tips for responding to and fighting back against blackmail on Snapchat.
Blackmail & Its Impact on Victims
Internet blackmail can take many forms and may be referred to by a number of different names, including ‘sextortion’ and ‘sexual blackmail’. This is a burgeoning crime that is only on the rise as the world becomes more electronically connected. To better understand the depths of this criminal offense, let us first take a look at its legal definition.
What is the Legal Definition of Blackmail?
The federal statute 18 U.S.C. § 873 defines a blackmailer as: “Whoever, under a threat of informing, or as a consideration for not informing, against any violation of any law of the United States, demands or receives any money or other valuable thing, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.”
In other words, blackmail is the crime of threatening to share harmful or humiliating information about you unless you meet their demands. Most blackmailers ask for money, but others might seek sexual favors or other benefits.
It is important to understand that the perpetrator commits blackmail as soon as they make the threat; no money or property needs to change hands. The perpetrator is committing a crime regardless of whether you pay them.
What Are the Effects of Snapchat Blackmail on Victims?
Blackmail on Snapchat can have a catastrophic impact on your personal and professional life. Some of the most common effects of blackmail on victims include the following:
After being exploited by a blackmailer, victims can find it difficult to trust others. Your ability to engage in online interactions confidently may be affected, and if the blackmailer was a romantic partner, it can also be hard to trust new intimate relationships.
If the blackmailer released explicit images or videos of you, you may also face additional harassment, bullying, and slut-shaming from your online and real-world communities. Depending on the context of the blackmail material, your relationships with friends and family may suffer.
Professional & Financial Consequences
If you pay the blackmailer’s ransom (which we generally do not recommend), you can suffer significant financial loss. Even if you do not pay, you may need to seek costly mental health support or legal assistance.
If the material is released publicly, it can affect your professional life and career prospects. You might lose job opportunities or leadership positions if your professional reputation is damaged by the blackmail material’s contents.
Physical & Mental Health Effects
Finally, the experience of being blackmailed can cause significant harm to your mental and physical health. The threat of having private, and often explicit, content revealed can be extremely stressful and isolating. Additionally, filing a lawsuit or criminal complaint against the perpetrator can be a time-consuming and retraumatizing experience. You may feel like you have nowhere to turn and your life is ruined.
Many blackmail victims suffer from physical symptoms such as trouble sleeping, headaches, reduced appetite, or heart disease, in extreme cases. The mental health effects of blackmail include depression, anxiety, lowered self-esteem, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and even thoughts of self-harm.
Please know that no matter how dire your situation seems, nothing is ever worth harming yourself. If you are experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please call the Suicide Prevention Helpline at 988 at any hour of the day or night.
Understanding How Snapchat Blackmailers Operate
To protect yourself from potential attacks, it is important to know how to spot the red flags of a blackmailer on social media. In this section, we explain how and why perpetrators use Snapchat to find blackmail victims.
Why Snapchat is a Popular App For Blackmailers
Snapchat offers several appealing features for extortionists and blackmailers. The platform is very popular with younger demographics, providing a large number of potential victims.
Unlike on other social media apps, photos and messages on Snapchat disappear shortly after viewing. Due to this ephemeral quality, users often feel more comfortable sharing explicit content with strangers. Since messages disappear, it can be more difficult for victims to save evidence of the blackmail.
However, blackmailers can easily use alternative tools to record and save copies of Snapchat messages, while unsuspecting victims are unlikely to save evidence until it is too late. Snapchat also makes it easy to create anonymous accounts with fake information—making the platform an ideal medium for scammers.
What a Typical Snapchat Blackmail Encounter Looks Like
Many blackmailers on Snapchat use the same strategy for finding and preying on their victims. By familiarizing yourself with the common red flags of a scammer, you may be able to avoid most blackmail and sextortion attempts on the platform.
Most Snapchat blackmailers follow these steps when conducting a sextortion scam:
Creating a Fake Profile
First, they create a fake Snapchat profile to catfish their victims. They might pose as an attractive young woman, for instance. To seem realistic, these scammers commonly steal photos and information from a real person’s social media profile.
Then, the blackmailer plays a numbers game by sending connection requests to many potential victims at once. If you accept their friend request, they reach out to you and attempt to build trust.
They may share (fake) personal stories about themselves and engage in long conversations to lull you into a false sense of security.
Obtaining Explicit Content From You
Eventually, the conversation turns flirtatious and overtly sexual. The scammer might send you a nude photo or sexual video of “themselves” that they stole from a pornographic website. Then, they ask you to return the favor.
Making the Threat
Once you send an explicit image or video, the scammer drops their friendly demeanor. They tell you they have saved copies of the compromising content.
The blackmailer threatens to share that content publicly (or with your closest friends and family) unless you pay money or meet another demand. Sometimes, they may even go as far as sending the content out. However, oftentimes, this “proof” that content has been distributed is tailored as well. Sextortionists will do this in a last-ditch effort to get you to pay them.
Realistically, they rarely send the content out. If they do, the proof is usually edited or unsent right away, after it is documented.
Using Pressure & Fear to Coerce You
When scammers make threats on Snapchat, evidence of their activity disappears quickly. They will capitalize on your fear and feelings of helplessness by pressuring you into complying with their demands quickly. These scammers often give short deadlines and try to make their threats seem as imminent as possible.
For further reading, please see our guides explaining ‘What to Do If Someone is Blackmailing You on Google Chat’ and ‘What to Do If You Are Being Blackmailed on Instagram’.
Steps to Take if You Are Being Blackmailed on Snapchat
If you are being threatened by a blackmailer on Snapchat, do not panic or take extreme action. Remember that you have legal rights; you are the victim here, and there are ways to combat the harassment.
Blackmailers try to make you feel panicked, isolated, and without options. They hope you will react out of fear and meet their demands quickly.
Instead, try to keep a cool head—and remember that you are not alone. An experienced sextortion attorney can help you form an effective strategy for fighting back and ending the abuse.
Below, we list eight actionable tips for responding to a blackmail attempt on Snapchat.
Resist the Urge to Engage With the Blackmailer
Although it feels instinctual to respond to the scammer, resist the temptation.
The more you engage with a sextortionist, the more control you give them over the situation. Remember that they are likely playing a numbers game; they are waiting for multiple potential victims to fall into their trap. Responding to a blackmailer’s messages shows them you will be an easy victim—and it may draw more of their attention to you.
Do Not Try to Negotiate or Pay the Ransom
Sextortionists try to make their victims feel as if they have no other option but to pay a ransom. But meeting the scammer’s demands is usually not advisable.
After all, there is no guarantee the blackmailer will disappear once you pay them. Nothing is stopping them from coming back later and asking for even more money or favors.
Preserve All Communications & Evidence
Work quickly to save as much evidence of your interactions with the scammer as you can.
Some blackmailers may send a short clip of whatever video or content they have saved. Save that clip, along with as many messages and proof of the blackmail as possible. Take screenshots of the scammer’s Snapchat profile, as well.
While you may want to delete embarrassing content, this evidence will be crucial for reporting the sextortion and bringing a legal claim against the perpetrator.
You can capture screenshots on various devices by pressing:
- Shift+Cmd+3 on a Mac,
- Ctrl+PrtScn on Windows,
- Lock and down on the volume button simultaneously on an iPhone, or
- Power and volume simultaneously on an Android.
However, if you take a screenshot of the message, keep in mind that Snapchat notifies the person who posted the Story or Snap. To preserve a Snap without the other user knowing, enable airplane mode on your phone or device before taking a screenshot.
Adjust Your Online Privacy Settings
Next, maximize your privacy settings on Snapchat to protect your digital privacy. To change your privacy settings on Snapchat, tap the “⚙️” button in your Profile to open Settings. Scroll to Privacy Controls and tap your preferred option. Tap the back button to save your preferences.
Snapchat lets you customize the following:
- Who can contact you directly with Snaps, Chats, and calls;
- What kinds of notifications you will receive;
- Who can view your story (you can block specific connections if needed);
- Whether your Stories are public or private;
- Who can see your location on the Snap Map;
- Who can see you in Quick Add; and
- If other Snapchat users can use the Activity Indicator to see your recent Snapchat activity.
If you are being harassed on Snapchat, it is more likely the scammer will turn to other platforms to harass you. Maximize your privacy settings on all of your social media accounts, and block the scammer wherever possible. Just be sure to save evidence of your messages with the scammer before blocking them.
Create Online Alerts
Google Alerts is a free tool that notifies you anytime your name or other chosen keyword appears online. You may want to set up a Google Alert so that if the blackmailer does post content about you, you can quickly identify any harmful material published about you online.
Report the Blackmailer on Snapchat
Blackmail and sextortion violate Snapchat’s Terms of Service (ToS). By reporting the Story and/or Snap, or the perpetrator’s account, you may be able to have the offender’s content and profile suspended from the platform.
Reporting Snaps & Stories
To report a Story or Snap to Snapchat’s moderators, start by navigating to the content in question. Press and hold the Story or Snap (or if you are using your computer browser, click Share at the lower right corner). Press Report Snap.
In the dialog box that appears, choose your reason for reporting the content. Click submit.
Reporting the Snapchat Account
You can also report the Snapchat account. This method is especially useful if the account is deceptive, impersonating you, or promoting unlawful activity (like child pornography).
To report a Snapchat account, navigate to their profile. Press and hold their username, then press Manage Friendship. Click Report and describe why you want to report the profile.
Keep in mind that if you report the user, they will now know it was you who reported them. However, it may take several reports to see any response from the platform—and even then, a response is not guaranteed.
Report the Crime to Law Enforcement & Agencies That Handle Blackmail
Aside from reporting the blackmail to Snapchat, you can also make a report with law enforcement.
Nearly all types of blackmail and extortion are unlawful. The perpetrator may even be violating several laws in blackmailing you. The FBI has an Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) that specializes in documenting and investigating online crimes.
When you make a complaint with the IC3, they will analyze the case and forward it to the relevant federal, state, local, or international law enforcement. For more information, see our comprehensive guide on reporting sextortion.
Contact an Experienced Blackmail Attorney
When facing Snapchat blackmail, it is important to act quickly. The sooner you secure legal assistance, the better your chances of resolving the situation relatively painlessly.
Blackmail is a crime and a serious breach of your privacy, so having an experienced attorney’s support is invaluable. A sextortion attorney can provide objective advice, communicate with the perpetrator on your behalf, and end the abuse quickly and effectively.
We can also help you identify anonymous perpetrators and handle complex reporting procedures with various platforms to remove any content the scammer posts. Many internet sextortion and defamation lawyers also offer online reputation management services to protect you from ongoing threats.
Many law firms—including Minc Law—offer emergency consultations outside regular business hours. If you are being blackmailed, please contact an experienced internet attorney as soon as you can.
For further reading, please see our comprehensive guide ‘How to Deal With Blackmail’ by attorney Dorrian Horsey.
How You Can Prevent Being Blackmailed on Snapchat
While it is possible to fight back effectively against blackmail on Snapchat and other social media platforms, it is best to avoid being blackmailed at all.
In this section, we provide a few tips for protecting yourself from malicious actors on Snapchat and similar platforms.
Avoid Accepting Random Snaps or Friend Requests on Snapchat
Before accepting friend requests from strangers on Snapchat, think twice. While it is exciting to meet new people and expand your list of followers, be wary of strangers. It is too easy for malicious actors to access your private messages, posts, and information (including your location!) by adding them as a friend.
To avoid being the target of social media scams, limit your online circle to people you know in real life.
Learn Key Red Flags of Snapchat Blackmailers
One effective way to protect yourself online is to familiarize yourself with the common red flags of scammers. Many Snapchat scammers display the following warning signs:
- Profiles with little to no prior activity,
- Very few other friends or connections,
- Resisting showing their face or speaking on a call,
- Asking for money,
- Using implausible stories to garner sympathy or explain why they cannot meet face-to-face,
- Quickly turning the conversation flirtatious or sexual.
Do Not Send Intimate Images Online
While it may be impractical to avoid sexting completely, please use extreme caution when sending nude photos or videos to another person. Even if you know and trust the recipient, there is no getting around the fact that once you send an image, you lose control over where it goes next. Content that is shared on or over the internet is no longer private, no matter who you are corresponding with.
Many revenge porn or sextortion cases involve ex-romantic partners who develop a grudge against the victim. Other cases start with a hacked cloud account.
In short: the best way to avoid sextortion and online blackmail is to avoid sharing that content in the first place.
Avoid Sharing Personal Information
Blackmailers use your personal details as leverage to coerce you into complying with their demands. The more personal information you share with the public—like your social circle, employer, and location—the more ammunition a scammer has to use against you.
Be extremely cautious in all your online posts and messages. Do not reveal your address, phone number, financial data, or personal identification.
Additionally, if you are communicating with a new acquaintance on social media, be even more careful not to reveal any personal information that can be used against you later.
For further information, please see our resources explaining ‘What to Do If Someone is Blackmailing You With Nude Photos’ and ‘Someone Recorded Me on Skype & is Blackmailing Me’.
Explore How You Can Put an End to Snapchat Blackmail
Having someone threaten to distribute your intimate content to friends and family can be extremely stressful and it can be difficult to know where to turn. While ignoring or responding to Snapchat blackmail may feel like the best course of action, it is critical to consult an experienced blackmail attorney.
At Minc Law, we have helped hundreds of individuals address internet blackmail and sextortion without drawing further unwanted attention to the matter. We help take over communications with perpetrators, prevent the release of intimate content, and remove harmful content from the internet (should it be published).
“I was recently a victim of a predator trying to extort me. I was lost and had not idea what to do till I found Minc Law. Dorian and Anna were amazing, patient and completely understanding of my situation. I followed their expert advice and the problem went away and I fell like a weight has been lifted off my shoulder. I cannot thank Minc Law enough for protecting my reputation. I would recommend Minc Law to anyone in a similar situation. They are simply the best. Thank you for everything.”
March 10, 2023
To explore your options to put an end to Snapchat blackmail, reach out to schedule your no-obligation consultation by calling us at (216) 373-7706, speaking with a Chat representative, or filling out our online contact form.