The Ministry of Interior’s Information Technology and Anti-Cybercrime departments have urged victims and the public to report extortion involving pornographic images and videos to the authorities.
The departments said they had observed that there were currently many cases of sex-related extortion taking place in Cambodia and occurring in the same manner, causing victims to lose property and reputation.
In its recent Facebook post, the IT department reported that perpetrators had used a number of ways to obtain pornographic images of victims, including the use of beautiful women to lure victims into conversations and using online erotic activities to persuade victims into sexual activity in front of their computer or mobile phone camera, whereby the perpetrator records the activities to extort money.
The report said perpetrators also used pornographic websites to install online chat programmes with viruses that control a victim’s webcam. Viruses may infect a user’s computer or mobile phone by various online interactions, surreptitiously recording one’s activities and whatever may be captured by cameras or microphones.
The department implored people to report to the police urgently in order to begin investigations in cases of cybercrimes and extortion. They advised against succumbing to the demands of criminals which could only continue indefinitely.
“Paying money [to the perpetrator] is not a viable option because you would need to pay continuously. You must temporarily close social media accounts and use anti-virus software to scan and clean viruses on computer or mobile device – as well as covering cameras with a sticker when they’re not in use,” the department suggested.
Anti-cybercrime department director Chea Pov told The Post it did not have exact figures for such cases as there had not been any official study about extortion using pornographic images or videos in Cambodia. There is also a lack of data because some victims did not report the crimes in a timely manner or at all due to their personal nature or stigma associated with such cases.
He said that crimes of sexual extortion by means of compromising images or videos were not isolated to anonymous online interactions, but rather, there were also many cases involving relatives or family friends.
“These cases are very frightening and potentially risky for victims because they stand to lose personal property or possibly even their livelihood. Psychological after-effects of these crimes might also prompt victims to retreat from society and interpersonal relationships, harming our general social order. I call on all social media users to be extremely careful,” he said.
Plan International Cambodia’s deputy country director Yi Kimthan, told The Post that these were concerns for his organisation, as well as for many others working on the issue.
He noted that these crimes are sometimes directed at children, and while advances in technology and online systems have greatly developed social connections, children are especially vulnerable as a side effect and need to be protected.
“We see that the government has done a lot of work, but further outreach is paramount, so that the general public can be more aware of the issue and parents or guardians confronting such extortion cases will know where they can seek legal protection from the government,” he said.