Being Blackmailed for Money on Facebook? Here's What to Do

Dennis Faas's picture

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Infopackets Reader Peter T. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

A few days ago I met a woman online through Facebook. We chatted for a few days, then she convinced me to do a video call. When I answered, she was already undressed and doing things to her body - that's when she asked me to reciprocate. As soon as I did, the call ended abruptly. She sent my video back to prove I was recorded, then started making demands: if I don't pay, she's going to release my pictures and videos to friends and family on Facebook and followers on Instagram.

I freaked out and sent $300 to Burkina Faso (Africa) with promises it would end - but as soon as they got the money, they said I have to keep on paying the remainder ($15,000 initially demanded). They want to put me on a payment plan to 'finish paying it off'. They are making me check in daily - whenever they say 'Hello', I have to respond, otherwise they will start threatening me again.

Yesterday I shut down my accounts and blocked the scammers, but after reading another one of your articles I understand this is a bad idea because it will escalate my exposure. I've been subscribed to your website now for over 10 years and I know you are the man when it comes to dealing with online scams. Can you PLEASE HELP? "

My response:

Note that I've updated this article numerous times. I've included some FAQs, including:

  • FAQ: Can you track down the scammers?
  • FAQ: Will the scammers go away if I shut down my Facebook / Instagram, etc?
  • FAQ: What happens if I block the blackmailers?
  • FAQ: Do blackmailers follow through with their threats?
  • FAQ: Will the FBI help me? I reported the scammers via the IC3 website.
  • FAQ: I'm scared. Should I call the police?
  • FAQ: Should I hire a lawyer?
  • FAQ: Can you delete my picture and/or video?
  • FAQ: I'm interested in hiring you. How do I know you won't scam me?

I suggest you read the article in its entirety and eventually you'll get to the FAQs.

The Anatomy of a Online Blackmail (Facebook, Instagram, etc)

This scam goes by many different names, including: "online blackmail", "Facebook blackmail", "Instagram blackmail", "Google hangouts blackmail scam" or "online romance scam", etc.

This blackmail scam can happen literally anywhere online - whether it's a dating website, chat site, chat app, game site or game app, or through Facebook or Instagram directly. They all have one thing in common: the threats almost always involve exposing the victim through family and friends (on Facebook) or followers (on Instagram). Sometimes scammers are able to find a spouses' phone number through a third-party website (such as beenverified.com, etc).

Here's how the scam works:

The Male Version of the Scam

The chat usually begins innocently, but quickly turns intimate. The blackmail scammers usually offer to send fake pics of themselves scantly dressed, then ask for reciprocation and/or lead the victim into video chat. Once in chat, the victim is secretly recorded in an act.

While this is happening, other members in the group of scammers download offline copies of the victim's social media accounts (usually through Facebook or Instagram) and/or do reverse phone number lookups and find relatives on social media. Even if you don't have a social media account, a relative usually does.

They download your online identity for two reasons:

  1. The typical response from the blackmail victim is to block the scammer and/or close all social media, but this is in vain (see #2 below).
     
  2. The scammers use an offline copy of the victim's account to contact friends and family directly in order to make additional threats. Blackmailers then use this information to follow through with their threats [pic].

The Female Version of the Blackmail Scam

The female version is long and drawn out because women don't typically jump head first into the intimate part of a relationship. Oftentimes scammers will pretend that they are in the army, navy, a rock star, a bitcoin investor, etc. Their fake online social media profile usually backs up this story.

In many cases I've worked on, women get scammed twice over.

For example, women end up sending thousands of dollars either through an investment scam or because they believe the scammer is real and/or needs financial help. This usually happens over a long period of time (1+ month).

After the money has been sent, trust has already been established and now the scammers turn the relation into an intimate one.

As with the male version of this scam, the blackmailers have already downloaded all of the victim's personal information off of Facebook or Instragram (in most cases). The scammers then hold the videos and/or pictures as ransom and request either (a) that the victim keep sending pictures and videos of themselves or (b) pay a ransom. In the former case, it's because the scammers will assume her identity online and scam other men pretending to be her. I bet you didn't think they would do that.

Proving the Threats Are Real

To prove the threats are real, scammers will send pictures of the victim's friends, family, and followers on Facebook or Instagram, and sometimes websites associated with the victim's workplace. But they also do much worse things than that.

Oftentimes, the scammers will threaten to post the victim's raw video on Youtube, stating that it's in "private mode", but will go "public" unless money has been paid. Another very famous tactic is to post a snippet of the victim's picture on a fake blackmail poster [pic] that that claims the victim is a pedophile, with threats to spread it around the Internet. In both cases, it's usually African scammers that do this.

At this point, the victims usually pays up - the same day or next day by way of wire transfer (MoneyGram, Western Union), online cash services (CashApp, Remitly, Ria, World Remit, etc) or by gift card payment.

However -

Once the blackmail scammers receive the funds, they will never stop asking for more - no matter how money much you pay! That's how this scam goes 100% of the time. Don't be fooled into thinking a one-time payment will be the end - IT NEVER IS!

If the scammers don't get what they want, they will continue threatening the victim. The threats can be severe and are used as psychological warfare.

Part of the game is to keep the victim in chat for as long as possible in order to mentally run them down, and/or make the victim check in every day (usually in the morning) to ensure they haven't run away and to ensure payment will be sent at a later date.

If payment is not received (usually by the second week) then blackmail scammers will increase the threats and/or follow through by contacting the victim's friends / family / followers.

Other ways victims fall for this scam include:

  • Direct SMS texting (regular phone texting) from the 'wrong number'
  • Online dating and hookup sites that encourage extra-marital affairs (Facebook Dating, Adult Buddy Finder, etc)
  • Adult-oriented websites (anything that is raunchy)
  • Game sites and app games (Fortnite, Words with Friends, etc)
  • Casual Chat websites and apps (Omegle, Whisper, Kik, Whatsapp, Google Hangouts, etc)
  • Other social parts of the web (Discord, web forums, etc)

Update 2022/03/16: I have studied this scam in-depth for the last 2 years. I have listened to 2,000+ phone calls from clients and have successfully resolved 750+ cases. I am offering a bulletproof plan to ensure that even if the blackmail scammers do follow through with their threats, the damage will be next to zero. Consultation with me is FREE. Note that this service is paid support; view my resume here. I have 20 years in IT and am a senior systems administrator with REAL credentials (click here to see my degree); in fact, my services were recommended by the University of Florida as far back in 2006. Once paid, I offer unlimited support to my clients. If you're already sold, then by all means - contact me now!

FAQ: Can you track down the scammers?

Yes - but with limitations. It is possible to track the scammers and I have two two distinct methods to track scammers - one which is completely stealth.

Once the proper information has been obtained, I will share it with you and the scammers approximate location and Internet service provider will be revealed. This can be used to threaten the scammers because this same information can be used to identify them and share with their local law enforcement.

This process takes very little time to implement.

Note: use EXTREME CAUTION if you've recently found a company that claims to find the scammer's "true identity" and/or with promises of hunting down the bad guys and throwing them behind bars. You can't prove any of this - you'll just have to take their word for it. What if the company is lying about who they are? [Put another way: how long did it take the US military to catch Osama bin Laden?] When in doubt, go to the Better Business Bureau and look at the company's negative feedback. Trust me on this.

FAQ: Will the scammers go away if I shut down my Facebook / Instagram, etc?

Absolutely not - in fact, the scammers are betting on the fact that you will do this.

Closing your social media accounts is a bad idea for two reasons.

Here's why -

1. The moment you said "Hello" to the scammers, they downloaded all of your information off of Facebook and Instagram and have an offline copy of it. Shutting down your accounts and blocking the scammers will have little to no effect because they already have an offline copy of your accounts.

(Note: even if you don't have social media, they can look you up by reverse phone number or using third-party sites like Been Verified, etc, then look up other people you know on social media and expose you that way.)

2. If you close your social media accounts, you are effectively telling the scammers that you're scared - but that's not all. Some scammers will expose you on the spot if you shut down your accounts (presumably because they think that the next logical step is to block them). As such, I don't recommend you do this.

FAQ: What happens if I block the blackmail scammers?

First, let's understand some basics: the scammers need to stay in communication with you in order to keep on scaring you, so that they can keep on collecting your money.

If you block them, they can't achieve their goal - and that's usually when things start getting nasty. Some scammers will expose you on the spot; other scammers will wait a few days to try to get a hold of you again. Some scammers fake the threats. You have a 50/50 chance of being exposed, no matter what you read online because it depends on who you're dealing with and your circumstances.

In most cases: if they can't get a hold of you, they will look at your contacts (via your offline downloaded Facebook or Instagram account), then reach out to friends and family through social media.

In some circumstances, they will try and communicate to you through your friends and family. Sometimes they'll tell others that you enjoy little kids [pic] and they have a video to prove it. I've heard from numerous clients that scammers edit videos and modify pictures to incriminate you and will threaten to send it, even if they don't have "the goods" on you, so to speak. In one case I worked on, they modified the victim's video and inserted a 9 year old female into it to make it look like he was enjoying little kids. It's completely sick, and 100% true.

Sometimes they will expose you straight away by uploading your video or pictures to friends and family directly through Facebook or Instagram. Sometimes they upload your video to a third party site and will tag you in it on someone else's page on social media.

Don't want to take any of these risks? Contact me straight away and get your case mitigated within 1-3 days. Consultation with me is FREE - whether by email, phone, or webcam. I have a solid plan and I've worked on 750+ cases already. I also have real verifiable credentials.

FAQ: Do blackmailers follow through with their threats?

Yes, but it depends on your circumstances and what you have to lose.

Related: Do Blackmailers Follow Through? (And What to Expect)

In summary, please note that:

  • Blackmail is an organized crime. Scammers work in groups.
     
  • Scammers are anonymous and are operating with practical impunity.
     
  • Scammers are usually overseas, even if you have information suggesting otherwise.
     
  • Scammers will do anything to get your money and don't care if you have excuses.

With that said:

  1. If you paid any money, they will never stop asking for more.
     
  2. If you paid the scammers anything to "buy yourself time" - THINK AGAIN - because someone else within the group will contact you and ask for more money. Sometimes you might be dealing with 3 or 4 scammers at a time. Don't think for a moment you are safe from being contacted again before your "new deadline" to pay more.
     
  3. Each day that passes, you have a 50-50 chance of being exposed.

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Update 2022/03/16: I have studied this scam in-depth for the last 2 years. I have listened to 2,000+ phone calls from clients and have successfully resolved 750+ cases. I am offering a bulletproof plan to ensure that even if the blackmail scammers do follow through with their threats, the damage will be next to zero. Consultation with me is FREE. Note that this service is paid support; view my resume here. I have 20 years in IT and am a senior systems administrator with REAL credentials (click here to see my degree); in fact, my services were recommended by the University of Florida as far back in 2006. Once paid, I offer unlimited support to my clients. If you're already sold, then by all means - contact me now!

FAQ: Will the FBI help me? I reported the scammers via the IC3 website.

No, the FBI will not help you. They are too busy working on bigger crimes. Also, it won't stop scammers from reach out to others on social media.

The FBI IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center) website receives thousands - and perhaps tens of thousands - of complaints daily and no human being at the FBI is going to filter through all the reports in order to contact you.

The only thing good about submitting a complaint through IC3's website is the data they collect from you, which is then aggregated to produce their annual crime reports each year which highlight Internet crimes by age, demographic, etc.

FAQ: I'm scared. Should I call the police?

If it was this easy, you wouldn't be reading this right now.

Based on the many, many testimonials I've heard, the police always recommend shutting down your social media accounts and blocking the scammers. Unfortunately, this isn't going to stop them from reaching out to friends, family, or your followers.

Here's why -

1. The scammers are counting on the fact that you're going to block them and shut down your accounts - because that's what a lot of victims do - and they are fully prepared to deal with this scenario by downloading all of your contacts in advance.

2. If they can't get a hold of you, they are going to start reaching out to your friends and family [pic]. If you wait too long, they might expose you on the spot.

How do I know? Because it's happened countless times already.

Don't want to take that risk? Contact me straight away and get your case mitigated within 1-3 days. Consultation with me is FREE. I have a solid plan and I've worked on hundreds of cases already. I also have real verifiable credentials.

FAQ: Should I hire a lawyer?

Hiring a lawyer is a complete waste of time and money unless you know 100% who the person is and you know 100% where they are located and you can 100% prove they are harassing you.

(That said, use EXTREME CAUTION if you've recently found a company that claims to find the scammer's "true identity" and/or with promises of hunting down the bad guys and throwing them behind bars. You can't prove any of this - you'll just have to take their word for it. What if the company is lying about who they are? [Put another way: how long did it take the US military to catch Osama bin Laden?] When in doubt, go to the Better Business Bureau and look at the company's negative feedback. Trust me on this.)

That said, here's why hiring a lawyer won't work:

As I've mentioned already: most blackmail cases I work on are overseas scammers (usually Africa or the Philippines). I know for a fact that there is an online Law firm that is advertising their blackmail services for $3,000. For that, you will receive a cease a desist order and minimal consultation from what I've been told by previous clients that paid for their service.

Question: what do you think is going to happen after you hand a cease and desist order to a scammer in another country?

Answer: you're going to piss off the scammers and they are going to expose you immediately, or they are going to laugh in your face (but most likely the former). Why? Because the blackmail scammers are in another country and are operating with practical impunity. They already know what they're doing is illegal and have no regard for the law. As such, most scammers simply don't care about a cease and desist letter and will expose you on the spot.

Update 2022/03/16: I have studied this scam in-depth for the last 2 years. I have listened to 2,000+ phone calls from clients and have successfully resolved 750+ cases. I am offering a bulletproof plan to ensure that even if the blackmail scammers do follow through with their threats, the damage will be next to zero. Consultation with me is FREE. Note that this service is paid support; view my resume here. I have 20 years in IT and am a senior systems administrator with REAL credentials (click here to see my degree); in fact, my services were recommended by the University of Florida as far back in 2006. Once paid, I offer unlimited support to my clients. If you're already sold, then by all means - contact me now!

FAQ: Can you delete my picture and/or video?

Yes, but only if the video is uploaded to a third-party website. Note that it is also possible to prevent your video from being leaked directly to friends and family through social media, and that is part of the service I offer.

That said, it is not possible to magically leap into the scammer's PC or smartphone and stealthily delete your video and pictures. Any company that makes claims to get your videos and photos deleted in this manner is most likely lying (and when I say most likely, I mean 99.99% of the time) because it takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to do something like this - plus there are many, MANY! variables involved. Once again, go to the Better Business Bureau online and do some research before hiring a company that makes claims like this.

As to why magically leaping into a device to delete your pictures and videos won't work:

1. PCs and Smartphones have built in firewalls (in addition to routers that direct your web traffic externally to the Internet) that prevent intrusion, including remote access which is disabled by default on PCs and Smartphones.

2. If hacking a device was as easy as calling a phone number and hiring someone to do it, using banking apps on your PC and Smartphone would be a dangerous thing and you would have heard about it by now.

3. PCs and Smartphones are usually patched to prevent exploits and remote access capabilities (as long as the phone is up to date and still supported).

4. Therefore, in 99.99% of all cases, "hacking" a device usually involves tricking the scammer to into inadvertently installing malicious software that allows for remote connections. This would be difficult at best to do because - based on my own personal experience - scammers hardly ever click on links, let alone are willing to install an app that you tell them to install.

As you can see, the chances of this happening are astronomically low. Therefore, you should be on high alert if you came across a company making such claims. Once again, the Better Business Bureau is your friend - do your research.

The fact is this: the scammers own your video and picture(s) and can do whatever they want with it. Even if the scammer promises to delete your video and pictures (and send you a video as "proof" that they deleted it), they will simply turn around and ask for more. As such, there is no way to prove that the information was in fact deleted. The same sentiments are true if you hired a third-party to force the scammer to delete the information for you - there simply is no way of knowing if the video or picture was in fact deleted.

FAQ: I'm interested in hiring you. How do I know you won't scam me?

I get asked this question a lot, understandably.

Here's a bit of background on me: I am a senior systems administrator, IT technical analyst, computer programmer and publisher. I excel at cutting through the bullshit and explain things in simple English - this article is proof. If you are looking for truth, honesty and transparency the entire way through, you'll probably want to speak to me about your problem.

Simply put: I know how this scam plays out, all the blackmailer's dirty little tricks, and how to avoid being exposed. If you want a fighting chance at beating this, that is exactly what I'm offering.

I understand some people may still be dubious. Here's info about me to prove I'm legit:

Note that I don't have hundreds of fake Trust Pilot endorsements - that's because I don't pay companies to write fake reviews. What you see is what you get, including the very real comments left below this article. Fun fact: most people going online blackmail don't want to leave their real names when leaving endorsements, yet other so-called services out there seem to be bathing in hundreds of fresh Trust Pilot reviews. Amazing!

For most folks, speaking the truth should be enough. If you're already sold, contact me here.

Additional Information

If you want more free advice, here are some related articles from Facebook - updated October 23, 2021:

I hope that helps.

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About the author: Dennis Faas is the CEO and owner of Infopackets.com. Since 2001, Dennis has dedicated his entire professional career helping others with technology-related issues with his unique style of writing in the form of questions-and-answers; click here to read all 2,000+ of Dennis' articles online this site. In 2014, Dennis shifted his focus to cyber crime mitigation, including technical support fraud and in 2019, online blackmail. Dennis has received many accolades during his tenure: click here to view Dennis' credentials online DennisFaas.com; click here to see Dennis' Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science (1999); click here to read an article written about Dennis by Alan Gardyne of Associate Programs (2003). And finally, click here to view a recommendation for Dennis' services from the University of Florida (dated 2006).

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Comments

PH's picture

Was to reach out to Dennis. After getting jammed by scammers on Instagram and WhatsApp I reached out to Dennis.

He got back to me within an hour. He laid out the plan very clearly and concisely. His 5 step plan is easy to follow and works like a charm.

Don’t make the mistake of not reaching out and don’t fall for other services who were very slow in returning calls and quoted much higher costs.

The best news of all is the threats have stopped!

Rambino's picture

I was scammed on Facebook. I emailed Dennis that night. Talked to him the next day on phone, hired him later that day.
Dennis's system is very well laid out and it works. He has thought of all angles to mitigate the situation and cover all bases
He is always quick to respond to a message or email.
When scammers posted a video online, Dennis had it taken down almost immediately.
He is very knowledgeable and is good at what he does.
Im glad i hired him. I would strongly recommend him if you are ever in this situation.

jeashley62's picture

Dennis was a nonjudgmental. truthful. Understanding and capable help in a very difficult experience. He always responds quickly to your questions and gives you the right answers. He gives you a plan of action that you need immediately. He is helpful all along the way.

Sum_14949's picture

I am still in the beginning of the sextortion, where scammers started contacting me around 48 hours ago.
6 hours after the scammers asked for money, I found Dennis page and contacted him by leaving a message on this website. Less than an hour after my initial request, I had a video call with Dennis and we agreed to move ahead. That was around midnight his time, 8 am my time.
Over the video, and then audio call, he explained the next steps and followed it up with detailed emails on what to do. I read, and re-read these emails, and I am trying to follow them to the letter.
I am still in the beginning of the scam. I admit I am still panicking of what the scammers would do next, but we are sticking Dennis plan that is working well so far.

ddd888's picture

I came across Dennis's profile from an internet blog. I was at the beginning stages of a sextortion scam wherein I was asked to pay 1200 USD. Dennis was extremely fast in responding to my email and the first thing he said was to NOT SEND ANY MONEY!! So I did it as I was in the middle of my transaction. He then explained me the entire process and send me the detailed emails which provided me a much needed relief knowing that there is a way out of this. I followed every instruction carefully and as I am writing this about a month later, I still do get threat texts once or twice a week but its ultimately a waiting game! Personally it gives me tremendous relief knowing that I can reach out to someone reliable if things go south. I would strongly recommend his service. You won't regret it! But just a word of advice, don't be stupid and be smart about your carnal urges in order to not fall in these scams in the first place!! I have learned my lesson the hard way. Anyways, I would very strongly recommend his service any day!

DavidsLost's picture

Dennis is literally the calm in middle of a storm. He helps you take control of the situation and calms you so you can deal with the situation rationally without letting the scammers get into your head and play mental games on you. He provides clear guidance on how to deal with the situation and is very upfront about the process, the risks and the potential outcomes. The most important part to me was how how holds your hand and helps you get through the situation. If you ever get stuck in a terrible situation where you require Dennis' services, he is the first (and last) person you should reach out to. I called one other company and they were reading off a script telling me that it takes them one week to review my case and if I want an expedited process its 3x the price. I realized right away that they were trying to extort me when I was a weak point. Dennis was exactly the opposite. Very helpful answered all of my questions and is really nice.

Thank you Dennis for all of your help.

scammed04's picture

Dennis is not B.S. I called the company with the 3 different 1-800 numbers. Listen, if you make a mistake call him! It's a free consult and there's no pressure tactics. With the other "sextortion mitigation experts", I felt like I was getting scammed harder by them than the actual sextortion scammers. Seriously, just call Dennis. Money well spent.

s10's picture

I was getting very difficult messages where the scammer was asking for money and was not willing to negotiate. Dennis helped me with a plan that allowed me to get out of the volatile situation which also calmed me down. I'm really thankful to him. I also saw one of his screenshots where he is helping a lot of people to escape from the scammers. Call him and he will be there for you.

gabriel.moussa.17_15102's picture

Dennis was calm, professional, and able to help me through a very stressful situation over a tight time frame. Talked me through the steps I needed to tire out the scammers and ensure my friends and family did not view the intended blackmail material. Worth every penny. 10/10 is an understatement.

unitedk_15129's picture

Dennis was a God send. After talking to the 1-800 guys (after about 8 phone tags over 4 days) I was near the end of my rope mentally and emotionally. I stumbled upon Dennis at my lowest point. He responded literally within 15 minutes. and he has reaponded very quickly every time since. I had a comprehensive consult with Dennis and right away I knew I needed him on my side. His combination of calm, compassion, and honesty was exactly what i needed.

But that's the emotional side. The intellectual side of me wanted a plan of action that didn't involve secret agents infiltrating safe houses in Morroco or waiting for a plan to emerge 30 days later. His plan was crystal clear to me.... very understandable and I feel good about the chances for success. I am in the middle of the scam now...I went alone and survived the first 4-5 days (with some limited help from another person). I wish I had gone to Dennis sooner but I feel good about the pending outcomes with him on my side. His fee is reasonable and has great value. He makes it clear he will not nickle and dime you. These are cyber crimes with a twist...I needed a tech expert that understands how the sextortion game is played and can serve as a calming, supportive force. Thats a rare combination but it is how I view Dennis...and that impression is readily apparent after only 24 hours! We all make mistakes. Dennis can help mitigate the mistakes. Look no further!

shyric_15305's picture

I got caught up in a Facebook sextortion scam. I contacted Dennis via email and he got back to me very quickly with a phone call. His services have been of tremendous help and he is a man of honesty, integrity and expertise. I have been following his plan and he is very responsive to any questions. While I am still going through the process Dennis is the guy I want in my corner to get through this. I would highly recommend his services!

mgd03personal_15801's picture

I was stupidly caught in Instagram sextortion and it had me freaking out. I lost about two days of sleep and almost failed a university assignment. My money had almost gone through to the scammers but Dennis helped me get it back. I also used one of the methods in the plan to scare them off. I am yet to see if they are gone for good. If not, I know that Dennis will be able to help me out with any issues because he's been very responsive and tremendously helpful so far.

A great service. I would definitely recommend to help you if you are going through this horrible situation.