The news covering webcam hacking, has shed light on individuals who are subject to extortion after their webcam has been hacked and are asked to pay monies in order for private images not to be uploaded to websites (usually of an adult nature).

This is a disturbing practice and Igniyte have helped a few individuals out of this delicate situation, that often has resulted in personal images strewn throughout the web.

The recent high profile case of Miss Teen USA, Cassidy Wolf, hi-lighted her suffering under the burden of having naked pictures of herself posted onto the internet after a 19 year old hacker, Jared James Abrahams targeted her by hacking her webcam.

Mr Abrahams, who targeted Wolf alongside other women, subjected her to extortion by attempting to blackmail the beauty queen. Speaking to NBC’s Today programme last month, Miss Wolf explained that this first came to her attention when she received an anonymous email threatening to expose these pictures to the world, via the internet, if she did not agree to provide the blackmailer with nude pictures of herself of her own free will.

Courageously, Cassidy Wolf stood up to the threat and contacted the authorities; subsequently the FBI opened an investigation into the affair last March, uncovering evidence of several victims in the process. Abrahams was identified as the culprit and charged on Thursday 26th September, after he surrendered to FBI agents. He’s now out on $50,000 bail, however the judge responsible has confined him to his home and ordered him to wear a GPS monitor, furthering restricting Abraham’s online activities by ordering him to only use the home computer for schoolwork, adding that it would have software installed that would monitor its use.

This disturbing discovery highlights a growing rise in the number of ‘sextortion’ (the name given to this unique crime) situations that are currently beleaguering web cam users the world over. At Igniyte, Online Reputation Management it is the sad reality that we have heard from a number of sextortion victims who have suffered devastating consequences as a result of having their webcams hacked.

Of course, we’re hugely sympathetic to these people, and seek to find every way possible to repair the damage which can be done via contacting the search engines and sites themselves. Igniyte’s experience of personal privacy online guides our clients through the removal process and, in terms of images and video, the search engines are usually quick to respond and remove content that has been uploaded as a result of extortion.

In facing such a horrible violation of privacy the first point of call is always the Google Removal Tool. This tool is used to report to Google content that is inappropriate and that shows in search results. The Google Removal Tool allows you to submit a request to Google to have offensive content about yourself removed. Google’s guidelines mean that often you will have to request this of the content poster; however, they make an exception for pornographic content.

Nobody should have to suffer the indignity of falling victim to a sextortion scam. If you find yourself in a similar situation, contact Google immediately with the relevant links and report the situation to the Police. Whilst the content may be embarrassing, authorities need to be aware of the practice and the offenders caught.

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