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A recent study by the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI) 'A digital pandemic: Uncovering the role of 'Yahoo Boys' in the surge of social media-enabled financial sextortion targeting minors.' has revealed a rise in a form of cybercrime known as "financial sextortion" in North America and Australia. This trend is primarily driven by a group of cybercriminals called the "Yahoo Boys" in West Africa.
'Sextortion' is a form of blackmail. It involves threatening to publish sexual information, photos or videos of the victim unless they pay via payment apps, cryptocurrency or gift cards.
The NCRI study, found cybercriminals used the social apps Instagram, Snapchat and Wizz to find and connect with their victims.
Financial sextortion is the most rapidly growing crime targeting children in the United States, Canada, and Australia.
Nearly all of this activity is linked to West African cybercriminals known as the Yahoo Boys, who are primarily targeting English-speaking minors and young adults on Instagram, Snapchat, and Wizz.
The tenfold increase in sextortion cases in the past 18 months is a direct result of the Yahoo Boys distributing sextortion instructional videos and scripts on TikTok and Scribd, enabling and encouraging other criminals to engage in financial sextortion.
The sextortion criminals are “bombing” high schools, youth sports teams, and universities with fake accounts, using advanced social engineering tactics to coerce their victims into a compromising situation.
Generative Artificial Intelligence apps are already being used to target minors in a fraction of sextortion-at-scale operations.
Read the full report here.
Advice for parents or carers of children who are being sexually extorted or ‘sextorted’
Analysts at the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) have reported an increase in cases related to sextortion. To help children and parents deal with this traumatic situation, they have released a guide that provides essential steps and insights. By understanding the nature of this crime and taking prompt action, parents can support their child and work towards mitigating the potential harm caused. You can find the guide linked below.