In the past few weeks, Belgium’s Economic Affairs Department has noted a sharp increase in reports of sextortion – blackmail using intimate photos – the Sunday newspaper, De Zondag, reported.
In April, the Department received 4,626 notifications of scams in general, an average of 154 per day. This is twice as many as in the corresponding month of last year. Of these, 1,300 (or about 43 per day) had to do with sextortion. This was seven times the number for April 2019, according to Economic Affairs Minister Nathalie Muylle.
“Although the link with the lockdown has not been established, it goes without saying that the perpetrators of such scams are relying on an increase in the consumption of pornographic content during this period,” she said.
Sextortion is punishable, involving both blackmail and fraud, two serious offences. The blackmailers make their victims believe that they were photographed or filmed while visiting adult sites, threatening to publish the images unless they pay up in money or bitcoin.
The Brussels Times