Joburg businessman pays R170,000 in online “sextortion” scam

A Johannesburg businessman lost over R170,000 in a “sextortion” scam, after making payments to keep explicit photos of himself from being posted online.

According to a report in the Sunday Times, the man eventually requested the help of security specialist Mike Bolhuis – after which the extortion stopped.

The case of the businessman is not unique, and many South African men are being threatened by blackmailers who state they will share nude photos of them online unless they pay up.

It was reported in July 2018 that the scam – usually conducted over WhatsApp or Facebook – works as follows:

  • An “attractive woman” contacts a man via WhatsApp and sends them erotic photos of herself.
  • She then asks the man for nude photos of him in return.
  • When she receives nude photos, she demands money – with the threat of making the photos public.

The “attractive woman” is typically a man, however, who demands the money from the victim.

Boys and married men

The latest report further stated that boys as young as 12, all the way up to middle-aged married men have fallen victim to the sextortion scam in South Africa.

Bolhuis told the Sunday Times he has dealt with 150 cases relating to sextortion in the past month alone.

“We suspect that these sextortion rings are operating in the big cities like Durban, Cape Town, and Johannesburg,” he said.

“They scour the market and see what is the latest trend that would work. The one that has always been a good thing is sexual communication.”

Bolhuis stated that the “scamsters are good”, and they know how to speak like women and “entice their victims with beautiful photos and raunchy talk”.

Shame scam

MyBroadband recently reported that another class of extortion scam – known as the “Belarus Phishing Expedition” – has also reared its head in South Africa.

The scam requires a criminal to trick you into believing that they have compromising information about you, and that they will send it to your friends and family unless you pay them.

One example is that they will tell you they used malware which remotely enabled your computer’s webcam, and that they recorded you masturbating to pornography.

Experts have advised to ignore emails which make such claims, as they are empty threats.

Now read: Fighting the death of SMS at WhatsApp’s hands

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Joburg businessman pays R170,000 in online “sextortion” scam