The new warning posters from the Scottish Government.
HARD-hitting posters are being used to warn that anyone guilty of revenge porn is facing up to five years in jail.
New legislation comes into force in April in a bid to stop people who share or threaten to share intimate images without consent.
The Scottish Government’s warning campaign involves posters showing images of a naked man and woman suitably covered with yellow “Police Crime Scene” tape.
Earlier this year it was reported that police in the region were seeing an increase in this controlling form of abuse, while Inverness-based lawyers say they are being contacted more regularly by victims of this manipulative behaviour, which generally refers to the uploading online of sexually explicit material to humiliate and intimidate the victim, usually an ex-partner.
As of April revenge porn becomes a crime in Scotland under the new Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Act.
There have been several celebrity cases where female stars have claimed they have been victims of this blackmail-style posting of sensitive images.
Police urge people to be careful when sharing images and to report any abuse.
Jenna Thomson, a family law solicitor for Macleod and MacCallum, said: “As a solicitor specialising in family law, I often advise clients who are, or have been, the victim of domestic abuse.
“This abuse can come in many forms, and in recent years, so called ‘revenge porn’ has been another method of abuse used to harass and exert coercive control. I welcome the introduction of the new Act and hope that it is effective in putting a stop to this particularly cruel form of abuse.”
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “Disclosing private images can be extremely cruel and degrading, and can cause fear and alarm.
“Sharing, or threatening to share, such images can also be used in a highly abusive and manipulative way to seek to control a partner or ex-partner.
The most serious offences will be those which the court judges have been calculated to induce “maximum distress”, such as sending images to a victim’s family who are very religious, or to a younger sibling.
Offenders will also face tougher punishment if they set up social media accounts pretending to be the victim or spread a large number of pictures to a wide audience.
Justice Minister Sam Gyimah said he welcomed the plans and said: “Revenge porn is an awful abuse of trust which can leave victims feeling humiliated and degraded.
“By making it a specific offence, we sent a clear message that this crime will not be tolerated.”
Other offences covered by the new guidelines include domestic abuse and “intimidatory crimes” such as harassment, stalking, controlling and coercive behaviour and threats to kill.
They reflect tougher penalties for stalking and harassment introduced earlier this year. The maximum jail sentence was doubled from five to ten years by the Government following pressure from MPs. For racially-aggravated harassment the maximum sentence was raised from seven to 14 years.
The most serious penalties will be reserved for offenders who target their victims at times which are more likely to cause distress, such as on the day of a funeral.
The definition of domestic abuse has been widened to reflect types of abuse other than violence, such as coercive and controlling behaviour.
This includes limiting the victim’s access to money, preventing them from having friendships or hobbies or determining when they are allowed to eat, sleep and go to the toilet.
New sentencing guidelines for revenge porn could let offenders off without any prospect of jail time.
The rules, outlined by the Sentencing Council, are for courts dealing with defendants convicted of disclosing private sexual images or videos without consent.
New proposals suggest that if an offender sets out to cause the most serious harm, but the victim doesn’t suffer the intended harm, then culprits will not automatically get time behind bars.
They could be let off with community orders, even when the offender has sought to ruin the victim’s life.
Victims must prove their vulnerability in order for the offender to go to jail for revenge porn, it is understood.
It comes after stats indicated that gay, lesbian and bisexual people are four times more likely to face revenge porn.
For the worst cases where – such as sending images to a victim’s family who are very religious or to a young sibling – jail terms of up to two years could apply.
The law only came into effect for the first time in 2015, following calls by victims, their families and charities.
There have been some 200 convictions since the law was passed.
The Secretary of State for Justice, Liz Truss, has previously promised to clamp down on such offences.
The jail time for offenders found guilty of stalking can now face up to ten years in jail, instead of five.
Justice Minister Sam Gyimah said: “Revenge porn is an awful abuse of trust which can leave victims feeling humiliated and degraded.
“By making it a specific offence, we sent a clear message that this crime will not be tolerated.
“It is right that our courts recognise the severity of this crime, and I welcome the Sentencing Council’s proposals.”
The new guidlines are now out for consultation, and if confirmed must be followed by courts.
Judges will only be able to flout the guidelines if it’s deemed in the best interests of justice.
The penalties for revenge porn could disproportionately effect the LGB community.
Lesbian, gay and bisexual people are more than four times more likely to be the victims of revenge porn, according to one study.
The a survey from US-based Center for Innovative Public Health Research found that the issue had a shockingly disproportionate impact on LGB people, who were more likely to be victims.
While just four percent of the general public have been the victim of either revenge porn or threats to post it, among LGB people the number jumps to 17 percent.
The study notes: “Among internet users who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB), 15% say someone has threatened to share a nude or nearly-nude photo or video of them without their permission, a far higher rate than among heterosexual internet users (2%).
“In addition, 7% of LGB respondents have had someone share a nude or nearly nude image of them, compared with 2% of heterosexual internet users.
“Taken together, 17% of LGB Americans have either had an image shared without their consent or have had someone threaten to share an image of them.”
The prevalence of hook-up apps in the gay community may be a factor in the disproportionate impact on LGB people, as well as pre-existing issues relating to ‘outing’ people who are in the closet.
Amanda Lenhart, of the Data and Society Research Institute said: “Nonconsensual pornography can have a devastating and lasting impact on victims, so it’s vital that we understand how common this is and who is affected.
“Our findings show that particular groups -such as young adults and lesbian, gay, and bisexual Americans – are not only much more likely to be victims of nonconsensual pornography, but are more likely to experience a range of online harassment and abuse.
“This includes other types of privacy violations, such as having their online or phone activity monitored, or having their passwords stolen or coerced by others.”
If you have been a victim of revenge porn and want to seek advice, call the UK helpline on 0345 6000 459.
In late January, the 31-year-old actress was hospitalized at L.A.’s Cedars-Sinai Hospital Jan. 26 after a neighbor called 911 to report she was behaving erratically. “I think it was complete hallucination,” Barton says on Dr. Phil, airing Sept. 3. “I have no idea what I was talking about.”
Barton, in her first sit-down interview since the incident, said she experienced auditory and visual hallucinations. “Before I blacked out and don’t remember anything, it was more auditory and visual—but more visual, like specks of light and stuff like that,” she tells Dr. Phil McGraw. “There’s also blackout parts earlier in the night, and then I’ll remember my friend saying, ‘Please lay down and then it’ll be gone again.’ And the whole thing outside is just blackouts.”
After her hospitalization ended—and video footage of her blackout surfaced online—Barton released a statement to People. “I voluntarily went to get professional help, and I was informed by their staff that I had been given GHB,” the former star of The O.C. said, referring to the depressant commonly referred to as the “date rape” drug. “After an overnight stay, I am home and doing well…This is a lesson to all young women out there, be aware of your surroundings.”
Barton later moved out of the apartment where the incident occurred.
The actress kept a low profile for a month, but in mid-March, Barton made headlines for yet another reason. During a press conference with her lawyer Lisa Bloom, Barton announced she is taking legal action to block the sale and release of an intimate video she claims was secretly recorded by an ex-boyfriend. As she tells McGraw, it feels like “complete emotional blackmail.”
“I couldn’t believe it because I had loved this person and I didn’t think it was possible,” the actress explains, calling it a “sinister” thing to do. “There’s no way that it wasn’t premeditated.”
Two weeks ago, E! News confirmed the case is under review with the L.A.P.D.
Barton also obtained an emergency restraining order against two ex-boyfriends, whom she has not named publicly, over the “revenge porn.” Speaking to reporters, Barton said, “I’ve been through an incredibly hard and trying time. This is a painful situation and my absolute worst fear was realized when I learned that someone I thought I love and trusted was filming my most intimate and private moments without my consent, with hidden cameras. And then I learned something even worse—that someone is trying to sell these videos and make them public.”
“I came forward to fight this not only for myself, but for all the women out there. I want to protect them from the pain and humiliation that I have had to go through. No woman should have to go through this and I am beyond grateful to Lisa Bloom, the Bloom Firm and to all of my friends who have helped me through this horrific experience,” Barton said while reading a prepared statement. “It’s a very hard thing to do but I’m glad I’m finally standing up for myself.”
Barton’s Dr. Phil episode airs Monday, Apr. 3 (check local listings).
Teenagers trapped in webcam sex stings are being blackmailed by foreign “sextortion gangs”.
At least 30 Britons a day fall for the webcam sex scams. Some British victims of African gangs have committed suicide, a Mirror investigation reveals today. Police said: “We just see the tip of the iceberg.”
At least four victims have killed themselves after webcam blackmailers tricked them into performing online sex acts.
The “sextortionists”, often based thousands of miles away in Africa or Asia, use stolen pictures and fake profiles to con people into thinking they are having genuinely intimate one-on-one video calls.
These are recorded and victims are told footage of their sex session will be made public and sent to friends and family unless they send cash.
One teenager stung by an Ivory Coast gang told his blackmailer after being online for just 100 minutes: “I’d rather go and shoot myself, you f***ing trash making people do this.”
The coldhearted criminal replied: “I thank you I want your money more I will share your video bye?”
Minutes later, the victim typed his suicide note which read: “I was getting blackmailed by someone for £800 so they sent a video around of me and ruined my life.
“I am so sorry … but this is the only way out.”
In the morning, he was found dead.
The Daily Mirror went to Africa to find how this teenager and another Briton were driven to take their own lives by criminals in the Ivory Coast.
We found police there struggling to cope with the rackets operating via a network of scammers, internet cafes and Western Union cash transfers.
The National Crime Agency had 1,245 cases of “financially motivated webcam blackmail” reported to their Anti-Kidnap and Extortion Unit in 2016, up more than threefold on 2015.
But experts believe the true figure could be 10 times higher.
Some are ambushed as they browse social media, some are looking for love on dating sites and others are tricked by pop-up ads on porn websites.
Roy Sinclair, from the police unit, said: “There is huge under-reporting of these kinds of offences, often because victims feel ashamed or embarrassed but of course criminals rely on that reaction to succeed.”
The tragic English teenager had killed himself after being lured into a Skype chat with a “pretty brunette”.
Police believe the victim, who we agreed not to name, was tricked into sexual activity in front of his webcam.
The Ivorian extortionist, who set up the fake Skype profile, sent his victim a picture of the sex act, threatening to post it on YouTube and share it with Facebook friends and family. He also vowed to make the baseless claim that the teenager had been watching child-sex abuse videos at the time.
He sent a link for a Western Union account and demanded £800. The youngster tried to send £350. But his bank blocked it, suspecting fraud.
The same Ivorian Skype user had targeted another potential victim on Facebook , just five days earlier, posing as a 22-year-old Texan brunette.
But pictures of “Daniella” had been stolen. Officers traced the Skype and fake Facebook accounts to the Ivory Coast, as well as two mobile phone numbers linked to a Western Union account used in the extortion bid.
Ivorian Cybercrime police found the mobile numbers allegedly belonged to a man called Ouare Yaya.
He is on the run but had withdrawn cash from Western Union branches. He was linked to a cashier called Kouadio Eoule, 33, accused of letting Yaya withdraw £164 sent by a victim.
But our victim made no payments to the blackmailer, so any withdrawal could not be directly linked to his suicide. We visited Eoule in Maca jail in the business capital of Abidjan. He said: “If they don’t find Yaya I’ll go to jail for 10 years. I’m finished.
“I had nothing to do with this. Tell his parents I didn’t know anything.”
UK police said inquiries into the suicide were ongoing and they hope to extradite the blackmailer, if caught, to face up to 14 years in jail. But tough cybercrime laws introduced in the Ivory Coast in 2013 mean offenders face up to 20 years and £164,000 fines.
The cruel scam is called “chantage” there and police are investigating links to a second British suicide, two in Italy, two in France and one in Canada.
But these are deaths recorded in one country. Two other British victims have been linked to other countries. One Ivory Coast victim was a closet bisexual whose male blackmailers threatened to tell his wife. Another was a Government minister in Mali.
Ivory Coast anti-cybercrime chief Colonel Guelpetchin Ouattara said: “We try to raise awareness but UK authorities must make people aware. I feel sorry for victims. They’re not stupid. They don’t know the risks.”
With piles of files on his desk, colleague Capitaine Seyo Kebe Mallon said many of the big web firms were not helping. He said: “We sent requests for information to Hotmail, Facebook and Skype. They ignored us.” Victims range from 14 to 82 but are mostly 21 to 30 years old, says the UK National Crime Agency. One NCA investigator, “John”, said scammers manipulate webcam sex tapes to fool victims into thinking they are live and real.
He said: “Victims are normally male and enticed by a young lady. In a matter of hours, you are enticed into doing something silly on camera.
“They encourage you to friend them on Facebook. That’s how they get your address book.
“Once they have it, they begin sending threatening messages and you become subjected to blackmail for hundreds of pounds or low thousands.
He said: “We still think we are seeing the tip of the iceberg.”
Stephan Konan, advisor to the Ivorian Interior Ministry, told the Mirror at this year’s ShieldAfrica security conference: “Criminals who used to rob people on the streets now go into cyber cafes and rob them online.
Up to 3,000 people in one Moroccan town are earning money by duping men into performing lewd acts on camera and then blackmailing them, it has emerged.
Oued Zem, 100 miles south east of Casablanca, has been dubbed the sextortion capital of the world with criminals increasingly targeting British men.
Victims are duped into performing sex acts on webcam before blackmailers threaten to send the video to their friends and family on social media. If these scammers are blackmailing you, please contact us immediately. We can help.
Up to 3,000 people in one Moroccan town are earning money by duping men into performing lewd acts on camera and then blackmailing them, it has emerged. One former scammer revealed how he and three others used images of Colombian porn star Dayana Perez Sosa (pictured) without her knowledge as a way of tricking victims
Victims were lured in via fake Facebook profiles using pictures of Colombian porn star Dayana Perez Sosa (pictured) that were used without her knowledge
They are then paying up to 10,000 dirham (£800) in return for the clip to be destroyed, according to an investigation by The Sun’s reporter Robin Perrie who interviewed a man from Oued Zem who was involved in the scam for two years before being jailed.
Hamzer Danjer told him his team of four used images of Colombian porn star Dayana Perez Sosa – without her knowledge – as part of a sophisticated method of luring victims and that ‘just about every man would fall for it’.
The Sun reports that Morocco has detained more than 350 people in a crackdown on the industry – with most of the arrested being made in Oued Zem, a town of 90,000.
THE SEXTORTION SCAM EXPLAINED
Criminals search for suitable male victims by setting up Facebook profiles pretending to be a woman.
Scammers then make contact in a bid to entice the victim into a Skype video chat.
Men are then shown footage of a porn star in a webcam video and eventually tricked into performing a sex act.
Victims are then sent a message with a link to the clip and a demand for cash.
Funds are then sent to money exchange agencies in the town before being collected by the criminals.
The country is also said to have set up a series of designated cyber crime units in a bid to destroy the illegal industry.
According to National Crime Agency Statistics, the number of Britons reporting cases of sextortion has rocketed by nearly a thousand from 385 in 2015 to 1,245 in 2016.
Experts suspect thousands more have fallen prey to the gangs without contacting the authorities about their plight.
On its advice page, the agency urges victims to call police, not to communicate with or pay blackmailers and to preserve evidence such as their Skype ID.
In November, police said young professionals were increasingly being targeted in a rising tide of attacks by online ‘sextortion’ blackmail gangs.
Overseas criminals were said to be using ‘honey traps’ to entice affluent businessmen and promising young male students to commit compromising acts on webcams.
The gangs were making millions in ransom payments by threatening to share the footage with family, friends and colleagues.
Officers from the NCA warned that Britain was being targeted by gangs in Morocco, the Philippines and the Ivory Coast.
Oued Zem, 100 miles south east of Casablanca, has been dubbed the sextortion capital of the world with criminals increasingly targeting British men
They have discovered criminals running factory-style centres, with ‘honey trap’ actors, blackmailers and financial centres laundering payments.
Investigators said the gangs targeted individuals through Facebook, dating sites and even professional networking site LinkedIn. In most cases they appear to single out potential victims based on their ‘ability to pay’ and because ‘they have something to lose’.
In a sign of the dreadful toll that the crime can take, four men – all aged between 18 and 24 – are known to have killed themselves as they faced extortion.
Scottish prosecutors are trying to extradite a Filipino man over the death of 17-year-old Daniel Perry in July 2013. The teenager, from Dunfermline in Fife, killed himself after being lured into a webcam chat.
In 2015, schoolboy Ronan Hughes, 17, from County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, also took his own life after posting pictures of himself online.
A Lower 9th Ward woman accused of publicly posting a romantic rival’s nude photograph in hopes of humiliating her could face up to two years in prison if found guilty under Louisiana’s so-called “revenge porn” statute.
Records show 26-year-old Valencia Smith is free on a $2,500 bond after her March 2 arrest by New Orleans police. Smith was booked with the non-consensual disclosure of a private image, which was established as a crime by state legislators in 2015.
According to her arrest documents, Smith was in a “long-term relationship” and has a 7-month-old child with a 24-year-old man who was arrested last month in New Orleans for multiple outstanding warrants in Jefferson Parish. Police said that while the man was jailed, Smith retrieved his property — including his cellphone — from central lockup at the Orleans Justice Center.
Smith apparently examined the text messages on the man’s phone, and found a nude photograph sent to him on Feb. 8 and two bikini photos sent Feb. 10 by a 21-year-old woman described as the victim in the case. That woman told police she had been dating the man for approximately one month, around the time she believed he had ended his relationship with Smith.
Police accuse Smith of creating a three-photo collage from the found photographs and then posting it on her own Instagram account on Feb. 25, tagging the younger woman on the entry. Smith’s Instagram page has since been deleted.
The arrest documents said the victim and her sister also received “a number of threatening messages” sent from the man’s Instagram account. One message to the woman’s sister in Baton Rouge said, “N ya sista mad cause her p—- got screenshot dat wat happens wen u send pics to n—- (followed by three crying/laughing emojis).”
The alleged victim provided police with five pages of Instagram messages captured by screenshot from the conversation, the report said.
Court records show Smith was made to sign a protective order barring contact with the younger woman and is due back in court May 1.
State law bans the non-consensual disclosure of private images and defines the offense thusly:
The person intentionally discloses an image of another person who is 17 or older, who is identifiable from the image or information displayed in connection with the image, and whose intimate parts are exposed in whole or in part.
The person who discloses the image obtained it under circumstances in which a reasonable person would know or understand that the image was to remain private.
The person who discloses the image knew or should have known that the person in the image did not consent to the disclosure of the image.
The person who discloses the image has the intent to harass or cause emotional distress to the person in the image, and knew or should have known that disclosure could have those results.
Disclosure of such images is not considered an offense when done by a law enforcement agency for the purpose of a criminal investigation, or by someone using such images to report unlawful conduct to a criminal justice agency. The law also does not apply when the image is of a public figure or related to a matter of public interest, or when the person depicted in the image voluntarily or knowingly exposed his or her intimate parts in a public setting.
A 19-year-old New Orleans man was arrested last November in what was believed to be the city’s first “revenge porn” case since the new law was enacted. Court records show the bond on Montrell Stemley’s arrest was set at $10,000 by Orleans Parish Magistrate Judge Harry Cantrell, four times higher than the $2,500 bond applied last week to Smith’s case by magistrate commissioner Jonathan Friedman.
Stemley’s case has been accepted for prosecution by the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office, and Criminal District Court Judge Robin Pittman has scheduled a hearing on motions in that case for March 30.
An offshoot of a 30,000-member Facebook group has emerged in which U.S. Marines are once again sharing nude photos of female service members. According to Task and Purpose, the new group has around 2,300 members and has resurrected the old trove of photos that caused controversy last week. Additionally, some videos are being posted to PornHub. One user reportedly wrote: “They can investigate all they want. It’s not illegal to post nudes lol.” This isn’t true because at least 30 states, as well as the Uniform Code of Military Justice, expressly criminalize revenge porn.
The exposing of a secret Facebook group where Marines are accused of posting nude photos of female service members — without their knowledge or consent — is renewing calls for the strengthening of victim protection laws across the country.
The problem, according to organizations that fight online sexual exploitation, is that such laws don’t exist in every state — and even if they do, they can be a patchwork of protections that don’t have teeth.
“We’ve been successful in encouraging legislators in these states to take up these laws, but that doesn’t mean that these states have come up with good ones,” said Mary Anne Franks, a professor of law at the University of Miami and the legislative and tech policy director with the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative.
Before her nonprofit group began pushing the issue with lawmakers in 2013, there were just three states with respective legislation. Now, 35 states and Washington, D.C., have some form of so-called “revenge porn” laws, which make it illegal to use a sexually exploitative image or video of someone online without their permission.
Victims advocacy groups say the term “revenge porn” can be a misnomer because the perpetrator might not necessarily be seeking revenge against someone they personally know. The term “non-consensual pornography” is usually preferred.
Prosecution typically originates out of the state where the offender is located.
Most states have laws that require proving there was an intention to harass a victim, but Franks said harassment in the traditional sense isn’t always a part of these cases and instead are examples of one’s privacy being violated.
Related: Senator Calls for Hearing Over Marines Nude Photo Scandal
But she cited the Illinois law, which took effect in 2015, as being particularly strong because it puts aside the suspect’s motive in favor of focusing on the harm done to the victim. And it also goes after people who post the indecent images secondhand.
In Rhode Island, the office of Attorney General Peter Kilmartin said law enforcement has had to turn away numerous victims of these cases because there are no applicable laws in that state. The cases have included one woman who said her ex-boyfriend sent revealing photos to her employer as revenge for her breaking off their relationship and another woman who said her estranged husband posted revealing photos on social media during their divorce, Kilmartin’s spokeswoman, Amy Kempe, told NBC News.
“We believe there to be many more similar and worse cases, but they are often not brought to our attention as police departments know that in most circumstances, charges cannot be filed,” Kempe said.
That could change if Rhode Island legislators pass a bill this year after one was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo, who had argued that it could impair freedom of speech.
Related: Nude Photo Posts of Female Marines Being Investigated by NCIS
Victims, no matter which state they live in, still have a legal recourse to sue their perpetrators for civil matters such as invasion of privacy or emotional distress.
But on a federal level, the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative is in favor of the Intimate Privacy Protection Act, which was introduced in Congress last year without moving forward. If eventually passed, it would make it a crime to distribute sexually explicit materials of people without their consent. The ACLU and others have opposed such a law for potentially infringing on free speech.
The case surrounding the “Marines United” Facebook group, however, is bringing up a new layer of complications when it comes to prosecuting perpetrators.
As the Defense Department opens up a criminal investigation, the U.S. military must ultimately decide how to prosecute those behind the posting and sharing of private photos of fellow female Marines.
The photos reportedly included more than two dozen female Marines posing topless or in provocative poses. In some instances, pictures of women who weren’t nude were posted, but group members wrote derogatory and sexually violent comments about them.
The existence of the Marines United group, whose page has since been taken down, was first reported Saturday by the news website Reveal.
Former Marine Erika Butner, one of the women whose pictures appeared on the page, said at a news conference Wednesday that her photo was used without her consent.
“Victim blaming and the excuse that some are giving that ‘boys will be boys’ needs to stop,” said Butner, 23.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and other Washington lawmakers are calling for congressional committees to hold hearings and investigate how these women’s photos were acquired.
“People need to be held accountable for their behavior,” Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., said Thursday on MSNBC. “We need to be looking at the culture that brought about this behavior as well.”
Marines Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller has called the actions “embarrassing to our Corps, to our families and to the nation.”
It’s unclear how many active-duty personnel, veterans or civilians were involved, although the group reportedly counted nearly 30,000 followers of different ranks.
Military members face charges of indecent viewing, visual recording or broadcasting charges, which carry up to seven years in prison, as well as conduct unbecoming of an officer. A dishonorable discharge is also possible, said Richard Rosen, a military law professor at Texas Tech University School of Law.
“The military justice system seems like the best system to deal with this,” Rosen added.
These types of cases leading to convictions appear to be rare compared to other criminal incidents in the military.
An NBC News analysis of court martial dispositions found that at least eight Marines were court-martialed and convicted for indecent visual recording between October 2013 and December 2016. Another Marine was convicted of attempted indecent visual recording, while two others in military court proceedings were charged with indecent viewing.