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Michael’s story

Michael was in his 40s when he first tried online dating.

He was amazed at how many interesting women he could meet online.

He started messaging with a woman he liked. She said her name was Susie — she was beautiful and it all seemed fun and flirtatious.

Susie pretty quickly suggested they switch to Skype so they could continue chatting without the restrictions of the dating site. It seemed reasonable so he sent her his Skype name.

They started messaging on Skype. Susie wanted to know which country he was from and also asked him to send a picture, so he sent one.

Susie then replied with a picture of herself in her underwear. Michael was surprised but happy to see it. Then she asked if he wanted to play.

Michael was new to online dating and asked what she meant. Susie said she wanted to video-call him and get nude. She wanted him to do the same.

She called him and they each started stripping off. After a few minutes they were both naked. But then the call abruptly ended.

Michael messaged her to see if everything was okay.

Susie sent back a video recording of Michael nude during the call.

He could see his face as well as everything else. She also included a screenshot of his Facebook profile and contacts list.

She demanded he send her $400 by money transfer or she would send the video to all his Facebook friends. She said she’d delete it if he paid up.

Michael was panicking. He was scared of friends and family finding out what he’d been doing with a woman he didn’t know at all.

Susie sent him a name and address of somewhere in Asia. She also sent her preferred currency for the money transfer and told him to enter the ‘cash pick-up option’.

Michael didn’t know what else to do. He transferred the money.

Sometime later, Susie messaged to say she’d received it. She then asked him to send another $300.

Michael couldn’t believe it. He’d done everything she wanted and now she was demanding more.

Michael felt trapped and ashamed and didn’t know who to turn to for help.

He called a trusted friend and explained what had happened. The friend had heard about image-based abuse and encouraged him to contact eSafety.

What Michael wants others to know

Be aware of the red flags for sextortion. If it happens to you, stay calm, get help and support, and never ever pay the perpetrator any money.

Michael believes that although online dating is fun, you have to be very careful with the information you share. He was so excited about meeting women online, but he definitely moved too quickly and shared too much with someone he really didn’t know at all.

Michael was a victim of sextortion.

Sextortion is a form of blackmail where a perpetrator threatens to reveal intimate images of you online unless you give in to their demands. These demands are typically for money, further intimate images or sexual favours.

If you are a victim of sextortion, or know someone who is, please report it to esafety.

*Michael’s story combines the experiences and emotions of a number of individuals in this situation. Stock photo. Posed by model.

Get support

Learn more and connect with support. There are also a number of ways you can take action to remove and report abusive images.