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‘Sextortion’ gangs blackmail 30 teenagers a day by luring them into webcam sex acts using fake women’s profiles

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.

The Ivory Coast has overtaken ­Nigeria as the capital of cybercrime in Africa. Half the population live in poverty and cybercrooks earn ­thousands of pounds a month.

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.

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Revenge porn footballer Igor De Oliviera who posted naked photos of ex-girlfriend online is spared jail


The young victim was left “very distressed” after her friends saw the photographs on Instagram

A JILTED footballer who posted revenge porn pictures of an ex-lover on Instagram when she began dating again has avoided jail.

Jealous Igor De Oliviera was caught out when his victim’s friends saw the naked photographs he posted on social media.

Central News

Igor De Oliviera had asked the woman for the pictures when they were in a relationship

After the pair split up and the woman began seeing someone else, the footballer got angry

Central News

After the pair split up and the woman began seeing someone else, the footballer got angry

The 19-year-old, who last played for Margate Football Club, had asked for the naked photos when the pair were in a relationship, and could not cope with seeing his ex with a new man.

De Olivera, who claimed he deleted the photos after “five minutes”, admitted one count of disclosing private images with intent to cause distress.

At Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court today, District Judge Barbara Barne handed De Oliviera a 12 week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.

He was ordered to complete 100 hours unpaid work within 12 months.

Julian Becker, prosecuting, previously told the court: “These images was composed of two naked photographs of the victim, but in one photograph.

“This was posted on Instagram and seen by others.

“The victim became aware when her friends saw the images, and she was very distressed by this.”

De Oliviera deleted the images after five minutes but was still arrested and now faces the possibility of jail

Central News

De Oliviera deleted the images after five minutes but was still arrested and now faces the possibility of jail

Mike Nicholson, defending said: “She sent him the photographs unprompted.

“She began a relationship with another, when he found out he was upset, he knows he shouldn’t have done it, he fully admits this.

“He deleted them after five minutes.”

Mr Nicholson described De Olivera as a “talented footballer” but told the court he was now living at home, after getting paid to play for Margate last year.

It became an offence to share private sexual photographs or films without the subject’s consent in April 2015, with offenders facing a maximum sentence of  two years imprisonment.

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The Moroccan town with 3,000 sex scammers

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

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.


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

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.

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New Orleans woman booked with ‘revenge porn’ offense

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.

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Marine Revenge Porn Group Re-Emerges

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.

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Marines Photo Scandal: What Can Revenge Porn Victims Do?


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.

Nikita Biryukov

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.

Image: Attorney Gloria Allred holds photograph with Erika Butner
Attorney Gloria Allred holds a picture of retired Marine Erika Butner in uniform, right, following a press conference Wednesday concerning personal photographs being posted without their consent to a “Marine Unit” Facebook page. Mike Blake / Reuters

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.

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Marines being investigated over salacious photo sharing of women service members

Top brass in the U.S. Marines are denouncing  in vigorous terms misbehavior by Marines online, including photographing and sharing photos of women recruits and veterans and making salacious comments about them.

“There is no place for this type of demeaning or degrading behavior in our Corps,” said Sergeant Major Ronald L. Green, 18th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps in a statement to CBS News.

Green was responding to reports published by the Center for Investigative Reporting that hundreds of Marines are being investigated for using social media to solicit and share hundreds — possibly thousands — of naked photographs of women service members and veterans.

“Let me be perfectly clear; no person should be treated this way. It is inconsistent with our Core Values, and it impedes our ability to perform our mission,” said Sergeant Major Green.

On its Reveal web site, the Center for Investigative Reporting found that since Jan. 30, more than two dozen women, including active duty and enlisted service members had been identified by their rank, full name and military duty station in photographs posted and linked to from a private Facebook page called “Marines United.”

In one instance cited in the report, a woman corporal in uniform was followed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina by a fellow Marine, who surreptitiously photographed her as she picked up her gear. The picture was posted to the Marines United private FB page, where dozens of obscene, sexually explicit comments were posted.

A Marine Corps official told CBS News’ Cami McCormick that when they learned of the private website, they started asking questions and “within hours the site was gone.”

“Whoever runs it kept moving it, making it hard to even find what the scope of it was’, said the official, adding that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service is looking into the matter. The official expressed sympathy the women involved.

“People will immediately start blaming victims, and we are most concerned about them. They may have taken pics meant to be private and then those images could have been shared by a former close friend. So many questions that we just don’t have answers to at this point.”

The online activity was first posted by The War Horse, a nonprofit news organization run by Marine veteran and Purple Heart recipient Thomas Brennan, who wrote the piece for the Reveal web site.

Within hours Brennan became the target of online threats, like “waterboard this p-o-s” and “I’ll pay 500 to the dude that can get good nudes of his girl.”

“I’ve scrolled by things like this on Facebook before. I think this is a good gut check for a lot of people. We have all scrolled by things we shouldn’t tolerate on social media,” Brennan told CBS News on Sunday.

On Sunday, The War Horse web site had a popup message with information on how to report harassment related to Marines United — and a contact number for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service which is investigating.

“Do you think you are or may have been a victim of sexual harassment or misconduct on Marines United?

Both active military and civilians can report a crime or share information on Marines United discreetly, anonymously and safely to NCIS via text, the web, or the NCIS smart phone app. The NCIS number is (877) 579-3648.”

This all comes just two months after the first female infantry Marines headed to Camp LeJeune. In late 2015, former Defense Secretary Ash Carter opened all military positions to women, including combat roles.

“The Marine Corps is deeply concerned about allegations regarding the derogatory online comments and sharing of salacious photographs in a closed website. This behavior destroys morale, erodes trust, and degrades the individual. The Marine Corps does not condone this sort of behavior, which undermines our core values. As General Neller said in his recent Message to the Force, the Marine Corps’ success in battle depends on trust, mutual respect, and teamwork,” said Captain Ryan Alvis, a public affairs officer for the Marines.

“The Marine Corps takes every allegation of misconduct seriously. Allegations of misconduct are thoroughly investigated and handled at the appropriate judicial or administrative forum. A Marine could potentially be charged for violating Article 133 (for officers) or Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). If a Marine shared a photo of another person that was taken without that person’s consent and under circumstances in which that other person had a reasonable expectation of privacy, the Marine may have violated Article 120c, UCMJ, for broadcasting or distribution of an indecent visual recording. A Marine who directly participates in, encourages, or condones such actions could also be subjected to criminal proceedings or adverse administrative actions.”

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michigan law specifically outlaws revenge porn

New Michigan Law Against ‘Revenge Porn’

Although issues related to sending sexually explicit photos via a mobile phone or other device is something many people associate more often with teens, the practice can lead to trouble for adults, too.

In recent years many cases have appeared in which a person has shared images with a significant other and then when the relationship ends the private image is shared with others as a means of hurting the other person.

Cases like this have come to be known as “revenge porn” or “cyber revenge,” and until recently, Michigan prosecutor’s have had a difficult time prosecuting the cases because there hasn’t been a law directly dealing with such cases.

Last year one such case popped up in Michigan’s Charlevoix County. The defendant in the case was ultimately charged with one count of unlawful posting of a message, a two-year charge.

However a new Michigan state law that Gov. Rick Snyder signed recently now specifically criminalizes the distribution of sexually-explicit materials intended to threaten, coerce, or intimidate.

In a news release issued last week Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney Allen Telgenhof noted that revenge porn cases often occur after a break-up, when one partner distributes intimate material sent during the couple’s relationship.

Under the new law, a person who distributes sexually explicit materials with the intent to threaten, coerce, or intimidate another person faces a $500 fine and up to 93 days in jail. A second offense can result in a $1,000 fine and a year in jail.

“Our office is pleased to see the bipartisan support these bills have received,” said Charlevoix County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Gregory Justis. “It’s another tool in our toolbox to respond to the tremendous rise in the use of social media to engage in domestic abuse and cyber harassment.”

State legislators have tried since 2014 to pass a law targeting revenge porn or non-consensual pornography. With the new law, Michigan joins 27 other states with statutes specifically designed to prevent and respond to revenge porn.

The bills were sponsored by Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren, and Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge.

“The new law balances our cherished freedoms of speech with the need to address behavior intended solely to harm another person, often seriously and irreversibly,” said Justis, who primarily handles cases involving domestic violence and criminal sexual conduct. “Revenge porn is about control and abuse, and the law targets only those who intend to engage in control and abuse.”

“It will also help shift the focus away from innocent victims, who are often blamed for their own victimization, to those who commit a serious crime,” he said.

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Revenge porn not ‘free expression’

Revenge porn not free expression

Last week, the country was outraged by a loophole in Oklahoma law that allowed a rapist to walk because the incident involved oral sex upon an intoxicated girl. A few days later, the Legislature pushed through another sexually-charged measure that probably already should have been on the books, but wasn’t.

By the time you read this, Gov. Mary Fallin may have signed into law Senate Bill 1257, which will make the dissemination of so-called “revenge pornography” a misdemeanor. The bill doesn’t ban publication of explicit images per se, though many of the staunchly religious at the statehouse would do so if that pesky First Amendment didn’t prevent them. SB 1257 prohibits the use of such material with the intent of harassing or humiliating its subject – which most of the time is a woman.

There have been many cases where an individual has allowed her partner to take racy photos either of her as an individual or as part of a couple or group. Then later, the couple has divorced or separated, and the bitter man gets back at his former lover by broadcasting the private images all over the Internet. Sometimes men are the victims.

It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what could happen. A prospective employer Googles the woman’s name, and up pop the private pictures. That might not be an issue for some employers, but for the more traditional among them, the phrase “moral turpitude” comes to mind. An otherwise highly qualified woman could be denied a job for which she is ideally suited just because of a “mistake” she made years ago, even if that mistake didn’t involve breaking the law.

SB 1257 makes it a crime to disseminate an “identifiable” image of someone who is nude or engaged in sexual conduct, if the image was gleaned in a way that a “reasonable person” would understand it was private; and if the image was made public with the intent to “harass, intimidate, or coerce” the subject, who clearly didn’t intend the photo for public consumption. Upon conviction, the perpetrator could be jailed by the county for up to a year, and fined up to $1,000. A judge can also order the photo’s eradication, if possible.

The law won’t stop everyone from taking revenge in this way, but it might slow down many people who would act on the spur of the moment, then later regret it.

The most ardent free speech advocates may cry foul over SB 1257, but the constitutional right to “free expression” is not absolute. In other words, you should not have the right to express yourself in a way that will destroy someone else’s life. Even the media must take into account the questions of libel, defamation of character, and invasion of privacy.

With the latter two standards, even if the material is accurate or true – in other words, not libelous – that doesn’t necessarily make it fair game. Lawsuits can erupt when publication of material is deemed to cross those lines. If the professional media must adhere to these standards, then in these days of widespread Internet access and social media interactions, the general public should adhere to them, too.

Revenge never ends well, and it should be eschewed, both in public and in private.

Please note: Parts of this story were removed because we felt the comments were victim blaming.

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Sex education key to preventing revenge porn as 30% of cases involve under 19

For that first time, police numbers have exposed that around 30% of documented incidents of revenge porn concerned young adults under the age of 19.  In the months since April 2015, when it was criminalized, a Freedom of Information request by the BBC has revealed that over 1,000 incidents were reported to the police.

Revenge porn is the act of releasing private videos or pictures of sexual nature without the spouse or ex-partner’s permission.

17 -year-old Daniel Perry killed himself after he was blackmailed over erotic pictures he’d published online.  Additional victims have talked within the aftermath of the crime of the suicidal thoughts. In three cases, children as young as 11 were the victims.

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Other victims have spoken of their suicidal feelings in the aftermath of the crime.

While the three youngest ­victims were only 11, the oldest were in their 60s.

Helplines say that members of law enforcement, teachers and social workers in their 20s and 30s are just as likely to fall prey as naive teenagers.

Experts say it can also be part of the “coercive control” exerted by manipulative and violent partners over their victims.

“This is a large and growing problem, and is causing huge amounts of harm to victims,” says former Lib Dem MP Julian Huppert, who campaigned for the legislation which made revenge porn an offense.

“Too many perpetrators managed to persuade themselves that they were doing nothing wrong because it wasn’t illegal, and that has now changed.

“However, legislation can only ever be part of the solution – what we need is much better consent-based sex and relationships education, so that people are clear that this kind of humiliating behavior in unacceptable. Social change is the best way to protect people.”

Social media has made bullying among teenagers even more invasive for victims

An NSPCC spokesman said: “It is shocking that children as young as 11 are becoming ­victims of revenge porn – and underlines the urgent need for action by social media sites to improve safety.

“Young people also need to be aware of the serious risks of sending explicit material or ­photos of themselves. Once an image is sent there is no control over where it will end up or who will see it.”

Sarah Green, director of the campaign group End Violence Against Women, said that women’s charities have been aware for some time that revenge porn “often forms part of a pattern of domestic and sexual violence”.

“The threat of it can be used to coercively control victims, just as the threat of withdrawing access to children can be used to manipulate and harass,” she said.

“We were delighted when the Government brought in this law but we think the protection of anonymity, as there is for victims in other sex crimes, would make people more likely to come forward.

“We also think that compulsory sex education, challenging the culture in schools which regards sexually active girls as ‘slags’ and ‘whores’ is essential. The concept of consent extends to spreading sexual images too.

revenge porn victims deserve anonymity

“The comparison we would draw is with drink-driving, when a change in the law changed ­attitudes over time. It’s not the case that our internet culture somehow makes revenge porn inevitable.”

Carolyn Bunting, general manager of internet safety body Internet Matters, said: “The fact more than three out of 10 ­incidents of so-called revenge appears to involve under 19 year olds brings to the fore how important it is for children to be protected online so they’re able to explore the digital world ­without fear.

“There will no doubt be many more who are victims and have not reported it to the police and are suffering in silence.

“Our main focus is to help parents stop their children falling into this trap in the first place, through communication and education.

“It’s always a tricky conversation to have, but we’d encourage parents to talk to their children about the danger of sending explicit images.”


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