Protecting yourself against Sextortion Scams: What to do if you receive a Whatsapp video call

Many Whatsapp users are in distress due to a recent rise in unknown video calls in India. Cyber branches in various states, including the national capital, have recently received a large number of complaints from victims who fell for this most recent scam.

Many individuals today are getting video calls from unidentified numbers. A video of a naked girl starts playing as soon as the phone is answered. The call unexpectedly disconnects after a while. A short while later, the scamsters send a Whatsapp text message that includes a screen recording of the video call from the same anonymous number.

The fraudsters send the screen recording of the Whatsapp video call via another unknown number if someone blocks the number before getting the Whatsapp messages. Then they threaten the victims, saying that they have their contact information and would release the screen recording of their video chat with a nude female to their family and friends. They also threaten to post the screen recording to other online platforms and spread it like wildfire.

Such threats and blackmail are used by fraudsters to demand money. To extort money, they give their bank information or UPI IDs. It is also called “Cyber Sextortion”.

On April, 8, a netizen tweeted, “this number is involved in WhatsApp video scam and threatening a senior citizen who just made a mistake of picking the call.”

Many times, scamsters converse with victims in seductive language to trap them. Scammers persuade victims into participating in a video call sex chat when they become attracted to them and fall for their traps. Such horrific acts are common these days and whatsapp is a suitable platform for such scamsters. Innocent individuals are framed, their jobs & family relations are threatened to be destroyed and their hard earned money is plundered.

Sandeep Saini, a senior officer with the Delhi Cyber Police, claims that on average, they receive 10 complaints per week regarding a single scam. Their immediate course of action is to track the phone number’s location and report it to the local cyber department. Saini said, the scammers typically use a VPN (virtual private network), making it challenging for us to track them down.

Saini further stated that sextortion cases in India have been on the rise in recent years. To counter this alarming trend, the department has undertaken various measures such as awareness programs, online campaigns, and counseling services for the public. “Despite repeatedly alerting people about the scamming patterns, individuals still fall prey to the fraudulent schemes,” Saini stated.

These frauds can be committed by an unknown or well-known person, and they can target both male and female victims (although the majority of victims are female). In such crimes, the offender generally entices and compels the victim to submit their private and nude images or videos through phone, which are then recorded and maintained by the former for future extortion (sextortion).

People make contact with strangers via dating apps or matrimonial websites/apps. The online profiles with which they connect are typically bogus. These fake profiles are deliberately made to look very attractive so that people fall prey to this scam easily. The people behind these false profiles initially converse to the victims normally for a few days before convincing them to share their intimate/nude images and videos with them.

Once the criminal has access to these private pictures and/or videos, he begins extorting money from the sender, claiming that if the victim does not pay up, he will upload or share the pictures/videos with his/her relatives, family, and friends.

Never accept a video call from an unknown number on Whatsapp. If you take the call, cover your phone’s front camera with your hand right away to prevent your face from being recorded. Even if your face is taken and you are detained, contact the police without hesitation. Additionally, keep in mind that you may get similar calls on any messenger like Telegram, Skype, etc. Individuals receive sex chat invitations on Facebook messenger and the scamsters require people’s Whatsapp numbers to continue the sex chat.

Safety Precautions To Keep In Mind:

1. Please remember – the internet never forgets or forgives. If you have shared something once, it will remain present on the Net forever, in one form or the other.

2. Secondly, the reach and speed of the internet is enormous. In a short span of time, the offensive content can spread to millions of people. Therefore, it is very important that under no circumstances, nothing that could, if leaked into the public domain, cause harm or embarrassment at a later stage, should be posted, shared, transmitted, recorded, etc.

3. During an online interaction or chat, if the person on the other side is trying to rush through the things and develop intimacy, then it is cause of alarm.

4. Never allow anyone, howsoever close that person may be, to capture any private part or intimate activity with any device. Such a data can be misused at a later stage causing serious harm or damage to reputation to the victim. [ Via Cyber Crime Unit, Delhi Police]

A top Kashmir cyber police official, Showkat Ahmad, explained that the initial response to such incidents is to block these numbers. “The most of the calls we track comes from locations like Rajasthan, Jharkhand, and West Bengal, and the scamsters use fake SIM cards to carry out these scams,” he said.

Online sextortion scam figures are not yet available for India, although the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) recorded 52,974 cybercrimes in 2021, a considerable rise from the 44,735 incidents in 2019. 13,196 of these incidents were reported in accordance with Section 67 of the Information Technology Act of 2000, which forbids the electronic publishing or distribution of pornographic content.

Cyber experts warn that due to data collecting issues and the social shame associated with such crimes, which discourages victims from coming forward, the actual number of online “sextortion” incidents may be far greater than what is recorded.

Choose A Format
Formatted Text with Embeds and Visuals
Youtube and Vimeo Embeds
Voting to make decisions or determine opinions
Trivia quiz
Series of questions with right and wrong answers that intends to check knowledge