You must have heard of several techniques of cybercrime up to this point. Many of which we could never have anticipated. Some of these reports are coming from different parts of the country. Where video calls are being utilised to cheat. Through video calls, cybercriminals are making individuals victims of fraud. During this incident, fraudsters film pornographic recordings of both the victims using a screen recorder, then blackmail them by emailing these videos and demanding money. However, cybercriminals are improving their strategies to defraud more people. In this blog post, we will explore the tactics involved in this case, the psychological impact, and ways to combat it. Before we know more about the case, let’s have a look at deep fake, AI, and Sextortion and how fraudsters use technology to commit crimes.
Deepfake technology is the manipulation or fabrication of multimedia information such as videos, photos, or audio recordings using artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, and profound learning models. These algorithms process massive quantities of data to learn and imitate human-like behaviour, allowing for very realistic synthetic media development.
Individuals with malicious intent may change facial expressions, bodily movements, and even voices in recordings using deepfake technology, basically replacing a person’s appearance with someone else’s. The produced film can be practically indistinguishable from authentic footage, making it difficult for viewers to distinguish between the two.
Sextortion and technology
Sextortion is a sort of internet blackmail in which offenders use graphic or compromising content to compel others into offering money, sexual favours, or other concessions. This information is usually gained by hacking, social engineering, or tricking people into providing sensitive information.
Deepfake technology combined with sextortion techniques has increased the impact on victims. Deepfakes may now be used by perpetrators to make and distribute pornographic or compromising movies or photographs that seem genuine but are completely fake. As the prospect of discovery grows increasingly credible and tougher to rebut, the stakes for victims rise.
Cyber crooks Deceive
In this present case, cyber thugs first make video calls to people and capture the footage. They then twist the footage and merge it with a distorted naked video. As a result, the victim is obliged to conceal the case. Following that, “they demand money as a ransom to stop releasing the doctored video on the victim’s contacts and social media platforms.” In this case, a video has emerged in which a lady who was supposedly featured in the first film is depicted committing herself because of the shame caused by the video’s release. These extra threats are merely intended to inflict psychological pressure and coercion on the victims.
Sextortionists have reached a new low by profiting from the misfortunes of others, notably targeting deceased victims. The offenders want to maximise emotional pain and persuade the victim into acquiescence by generating deep fake films depicting these persons. They use the inherent compassion and emotion connected with tragedy to exact bigger ransoms from their victims.
This distressing exploitation not only adds urgency to the extortion demands but also preys on the victim’s sensitivity and emotional instability. They even pressurize the victim by impersonating them, and if the demands are fulfilled, the victims may land up in jail.
The morphed death videos are precisely constructed to heighten emotional discomfort and instil terror in the targeted individual. By editing photographs or videos of the deceased, the offenders create unsettling circumstances that heighten the victim’s emotional response.
The psychological manipulation seeks to instil guilt, regret, and a sense of responsibility in the victim. The notion that they are somehow linked to the catastrophe increases their emotional weakness, making them more vulnerable to the demands of sextortionists. The offenders take use of these emotions, coercing victims into cooperation out of fear of being involved in the apparent tragedy.
The impact on the victim’s mental well-being cannot be overstated. They may experience intense psychological trauma, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The guilt and shame associated with the false belief of being linked to someone’s death can have long-lasting effects on their emotional health and overall quality of life, others may have trust issues.
Law enforcement agencies advised
Law enforcement organisations were concerned about the growing annoyance of these illegal acts. The use of deep fake methods or other AI technologies to make convincing morphing films demonstrates scammers’ improved ability. These tools are fully capable of modifying digital information in ways that are radically different from the genuine film, making it difficult for victims to detect the fake nature of the video.
Defence strategies to fight back: To combat sextortion, a proactive approach that empowers individuals and utilizes resources is required. This section delves into crucial anti-sextortion techniques such as reporting events, preserving evidence, raising awareness, and implementing digital security measures.
- Report the Incident: Sextortion victims should immediately notify law enforcement. Contact your local police or cybercrime department and supply them with any important information, including specifics of the extortion attempt, communication logs, and any other evidence that can assist in the investigation. Reporting the occurrence is critical for keeping criminals responsible and averting additional harm to others.
- Preserve Evidence: Preserving evidence is critical in creating a solid case against sextortionists. Save and document any types of contact connected to the extortion, including text messages, emails, and social media conversations. Take screenshots, record phone calls (if legal), and save any other digital material or papers that might be used as evidence. This evidence can be useful in investigations and judicial processes.
Digital security: Implementing comprehensive digital security measures can considerably lower the vulnerability to sextortion assaults. Some important measures that one can use:
- Use unique, complicated passwords for all online accounts, and avoid reusing passwords across platforms. Consider utilising password managers to securely store and create strong passwords.
- Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever possible, which adds an extra layer of protection by requiring a second verification step, such as a code delivered to your phone or email, in addition to the password.
- Regular software updates: Keep your operating system, antivirus software, and programmes up to date. Security patches are frequently included in software upgrades to defend against known vulnerabilities.
- Adjust your privacy settings on social networking platforms and other online accounts to limit the availability of personal information and restrict access to your content.
- Be cautious when clicking on links or downloading files from unfamiliar or suspect sources. When exchanging personal information online, only use trusted websites.
Conclusion: Combating sextortion demands a collaborative effort that combines proactive tactics and resources to confront this damaging practice. Individuals may actively fight back against sextortion by reporting incidences, preserving evidence, raising awareness, and implementing digital security measures. It is critical to empower victims, encourage their rehabilitation, and collaborate to build a safer online environment where sextortionists are held accountable and everyone can navigate the digital environment with confidence.
Authors: Tanushree Saxena, Cyber trainer, Policy, and Advocacy