Victim blackmailed after performing lewd act on Skype

OKEECHOBEE – At 9:12 a.m. Aug. 4, Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OSCO) Deputy Ben Vuleta responded to a call regarding a harassment complaint.

Upon his arrival, Deputy Vuleta met with the victim, who articulated that he was being blackmailed by someone on the internet. The victim stated that after experiencing marital problems with his spouse, he had become intoxicated and decided to go online in an apparent attempt to find someone to hook up with.

The victim reported that he discovered a website called “HelloHotties.com” and submitted his phone number to the website. Shortly after, the victim was contacted by a person with the supposed name of Abby. The victim, who was reportedly still intoxicated, was supposedly asked by Abby to use the video chat service Skype. While using Skype to chat, the victim was convinced by Abby to masturbate on camera while Abby watched.

Shortly after the Skype session ended, the victim reportedly received a message from Abby that stated the entire incident was recorded and that the video would be released to the public unless payment was provided.

The victim reported that a message was sent requesting that $500 be sent via Western Union to a person by the name of Evelyn Espirite, located in the Philippines.

The victim however, agreed to give only $300 and sent the money shortly after the threat was received. The following day, the victim reportedly received another message that said all of the lewd videos had been deleted and that there was nothing more to worry about.

The scam shared similarities to an episode of a popular Netflix show titled “Black Mirror.”
In the Black Mirror episode, “Shut Up and Dance,” the central character is blackmailed by a computer hacker who claims to have video of the character masturbating and then threatens to release it to friends and family unless the hacker’s demands are met. The main character is then forced into performing an escalating series of criminal acts, including robbing a bank and murder.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has labeled this type of blackmail as “sextortion.” The bureau defines it as a criminal act that occurs when someone demands something of value from another person with threats to release or distribute material the victim wishes to keep private. This material often includes sexually explicit images, videos, e-mail and text messages.
The FBI suggests following these rules in order to avoid becoming a victim of “sextortion”:

• Never send compromising images of yourself to anyone, no matter who they are or who they say they are.

• Do not open attachments when you are not confident of the sender.

• Cover cameras with a removable sticker or tape when you are not using them.

• Turn off your computer when you are not using it.

Richard Marion is a staff writer and photographer at Lake Okeechobee News and can be reached at rmarion@newszap.com.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment