The Bermuda Police Service (BPS) has issued a warning for internet users who post intimate images of themselves, that those pictures may come back to haunt you.

Police received ten complaints last year of online sextortion, but a spokesman said the incidence of blackmail may be more common.

In a statement released yesterday (Jan 11), he urged residents “to be vigilant online, particularly when communicating with anyone only known to them through social media”.

What is an online sextortion scam?

Online sextortion scams are a form of sexual exploitation where an individual is usually threatened with having personal images or videos of an explicit nature released on the internet, including to all the individual’s social media contacts, unless money is paid.

The compromising images and videos may have been provided willingly during a flirtatious online exchange, or recorded without the individual’s knowledge. A typical blackmailer is likely based overseas and will request payment via any local money service business.

Is sextortion against the law in Bermuda?

Sextortion is an offence, as outlined under the Criminal Code Amendment (Non-Consensual Sharing of Intimate Images) Act 2021.

How common is it?

International statistics indicate that this nefarious activity is common but believed to be underreported, due to the embarrassment those targeted feel, once the real intent of the flirtatious online communication is revealed. This is true locally as well, with less than 10 reports received by the BPS during 2022.

What to do if you’ve been targeted?

The BPS recommends that anyone facing an online sextortion scam block all further communication with the blackmailer. Do not send any money. Secure all social media accounts and keep the content of the messages, which could provide useful evidence.

Report the offending social media profile to the relevant social media company. Any incidents can also be reported to the BPS by calling the Criminal Investigations Department on 247-1744, or the Financial Crime Unit on 247-1757.