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We searched dockets and news stories for criminal cases in which one person used a computer network to extort another into producing pornography or engaging in sexual activity.
We found nearly 80 such cases involving, by conservative estimates, more than 3,000 victims. Prosecutors colloquially call this sort of crime “sextortion.” And while not all cases are as sophisticated as this one, a great many sextortion cases have taken place―in federal courts, in state courts, and internationally―over a relatively short span of time.
And if she did not send it within one day, he threatened to publish the images already in his possession, and “let [her] family know about [her] dark side.” If she contacted law enforcement, he promised he would publish the photos on the Internet too.
Teenagers and young adults don’t use strong passwords or two-step verification, as a general rule. They sometimes record pornographic or semi-pornographic images or videos of themselves.
And they share material with other teenagers whose cyberdefense practices are even laxer than their own.
Law enforcement authorities investigating the emails soon realized that the threatening communications were part of a larger series of crimes.
Mijangos, they discovered, had tricked scores of women and teenage girls into downloading malware onto their computers.
As defined in the Mijangos court documents, sextortion is “a form of extortion and/or blackmail” wherein “the item or service requested/demanded is the performance of a sexual act.” The crime takes a number of different forms, and it gets prosecuted under a number of different statutes.