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Masturbation (Blackmail)

Hi Sam.

Someone who I don't know has emailed me claiming that they have footage of me masturbating. What should I do?

Ask Sam

Sam

Hi there,

It's important to say first that masturbating is normal and something many people do regardless of their gender, age or sexuality. While it's okay to masturbate, it's also completely understandable that you’d want to keep this private. However, it's very likely that the email you received is a scam and is not real. I have some advice to help deal with threats like this, and about how to stay safe online.

There are lots of fake emails that get sent to people to scare them into paying money. Some try to get you to click on a link which might look real but leads to a fake web page, to trick you into putting in your passwords or downloading a virus. Some email scams try to force you to give money by saying they have embarrassing videos or photographs that they will share online if you don't pay them. Whatever the scam is, it's important not to do anything they want you to do and to not click on any links in the email.

Scams like this will say they have footage of you masturbating because they know that masturbation is something that lots of people do regularly, so it makes it more likely someone will believe them. It is never OK for someone to force you to do something you don’t want to do. You can either ignore the email, or you can report it to the CEOP who can investigate for you. Remember – whatever has happened isn’t your fault and you’ve done nothing wrong. The Police want what is best for you, to keep you safe and prevent the same scam from hurting others.

It's difficult to spot a fake email or social media message but there are a few things you can do to keep yourself as safe as possible. If you weren't expecting an email but a company or website asks you to click something to login, don't do it. Go to that company's website and login there instead. Secondly, if something sounds either too good to be true (getting free things in return for doing very little) or if something seems quite unlikely (like having footage of you masturbating), then it probably isn't true. Finally, if in doubt you can always ask someone else - an adult you trust, a friend or look online to see if other people have been sent the same message as you.

Childline has lots of advice about how to stay safe online and on your mobile, and about what to do if someone is pressuring you to send nudes or videos.

I hope that helps, if you ever are worried about this in the future you can talk to one of our counsellors who are here to listen 24/7.

Take care.

Sam

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