Younger males make up the majority of Aotearoa’s sextortion victims - and police say the offending is likely far worse than what has been officially reported to them.

Police say they received 618 reports of sextortion between 2020 and the end of 2022, with 54% of those victims being males under the age of 25.

The two youngest known victims of sextortion in New Zealand during that time were just 10 years old.

Police say many others have likely been a victim of sextortion but are yet to come forward to report the crime.

Sextortion is online blackmail where someone persuades you to send explicit images or videos of yourself before threatening to share those images with others. Offenders may ask you to pay them money, send more photos, or even move funds for them. 

Detective Sergeant Dan Wright says offenders are usually overseas and know what they’re doing.

“This is organised crime committed by offenders who often pose as someone similar in age to the person they are talking with [online],” he says.

“They will rely on threats and aggressive behaviour to get you to send them what they want.”

Wright says it’s important for victims of sextortion to remember they are not to blame and that help is available.

So, in the spirit of Safer Internet Day today, here are some tips for spotting potential sextortion - and what to do if it happens to you.

How to spot sextortion:

  • Meeting someone on one app and then being asked to continue the conversation on a different platform is one warning sign.
  • The other person saying their webcam or microphone isn’t working for video calls or chats is also a red flag, as they may be concealing their true identity.
  • People should also be aware of any inconsistencies in a profile and the introduction of sexualised conversations.

What to do if you’re a victim of sextortion:

  • Do not send any more images or videos, even if you’re being threatened.
  • Take screenshots of your online chat immediately.
  • Block the profile of the person threatening you.
  • Report the content to the platform you’re using (e.g Facebook or Snapchat) and ask that the content be removed.
  • Report the crime to police by calling 105. 
  • You could also report the behaviour to Netsafe (text Netsafe to 4282 or email to find out what options you have.

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