File image. Picture: Chris Ratcliffe
File image. Picture: Chris Ratcliffe

BEWARE: New Sextortion scam on WhatsApp

By Staff reporter Time of article published Jul 16, 2018

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CAPE TOWN - South African men are being threatened by blackmailers on WhatsApp according to a new report. 

Rapport newspaper said on Monday that the criminals are attacking the victims by stating that they will share nude photos of them online unless they pay up.

Multiple men have fallen victim to the scam over the last three months.

The scam, which is conducted via WhatsApp, goes as follows:

  • A woman will contact a male victim via WhatsApp and will then proceed to send them erotic photos of herself
  • She then asks the victim for nude photos of him in return
  • When she receives the nude/erotic photos, she demands money and will proceed to threaten him with public shaming if he fails to pay up.

If the victim refuses to send naked pictures, the scammer will resort to Photoshop to create images depicting the male as if he were naked. Private investigator Mike Bolhuis told Rapport that he has handled over 30 cases of blackmail using this tactic this year alone.

Bolhuis said the initial blackmail amounts start at between R500 and R1,500 and some of his clients have paid over R50,000 to avoid humiliation and shaming. He said that in most cases the blackmailers are men who use a female photo.

Bolhuis said he is not aware of a case where a woman has fallen for this scam.

Business Report has reached out to WhatsApp for comment.

On WhatsApp's Frequently Asked Questions page, the company shows how you can report scams and fraud. 

Reporting issues to WhatsApp

You can send reports to WhatsApp by contacting them from inside the app.

  • On Android: Simply go to WhatsApp > Menu Button > Settings > About and help > Contact Us.
  • On iPhone: Simply go to WhatsApp > Settings > About and Help > Contact Us.
  • On Windows Phone: Simply go to WhatsApp > more > settings > about > support.

Report spam

When you receive a message from an unknown number for the first time, you have the option to report the number as spam directly inside the chat.

You can also report a contact or a group as spam from their profile information using the following steps:

  • Open the chat.
  • Tap on the contact or group name to open their profile information.
  • Scroll to the bottom and tap Report Spam.

"We may ban accounts if we believe the account activity is in violation of our Terms of Service. Per our Terms of Service, we may retain the right to ban you without notification. Please be aware that a user report of conduct in violation of our Terms of Service will not necessarily result in us banning the user or otherwise taking action against the user", said WhatsApp in their FAQ section. 

Here are tips by WhatsApp that you should watch out for when identifying scam: 

  • Include misspellings or grammatical mistakes
  • Ask you to tap on a link
  • Ask you to share your personal information (like credit card and bank account numbers, birthdate, passwords, etc.)
  • Ask you to forward the message
  • Ask you to click on a link to “activate” a new feature
  • Say that you have to pay to use WhatsApp (WhatsApp is a free app. They will never ask you to pay to use WhatsApp and you do not have to do anything to use WhatsApp for free.)
"If you are receiving the message from an unknown number, you will be given the option to report the number to WhatsApp as spam directly from the app", said WhatsApp in their FAQ section.


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