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  • Voltaire Staff

Snapchat, Insta, Tik Tok becoming stomping ground of sextortionists, reveals report



More and more people in North America and Australia are becoming victims of sextortion owing to a large network of scammers which goes by the name "Yahoo Boys" and is based in west Africa, a study has shown.


According to a study by the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI), youths in these regions are commonly being targeted on platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Wizz.


The group has also shared numerous sextortion scripts on document hosting sites like Scribd, and video-sharing platforms such as TikTok and YouTube.


According to the US' Federal Bureau of Investigation, sextortion is a crime where adults coerce minors into sharing explicit images with threat of widespread distribution to victims' networks unless a ransom is paid.


Such scammers usually ask to be paid through peer-to-peer payment apps, cryptocurrency transfers, or gift cards.


NCRI, an independent social media research lab based in the US, found Yahoo Boys to be using social media apps to find and connect with their marks.


Yahoo Boys earned their nickname due to their use of Yahoo.com emails in conducting phishing scams.


These tactics have become popular as a swift means of earning money in West Africa, where alternative income opportunities are scarce.


People in several parts of the world are already falling prey to generative Artificial Intelligence apps, which enable perpetrators to generate nude photos of just about anyone.


The researchers discovered numerous videos on TikTok and YouTube where self-proclaimed Yahoo Boys demonstrated sextortion techniques using easily searchable phrases such as "blackmail format" or hashtags like #YahooBoys.


They also found instructional scripts on Scribd guiding others on how to extort victims using similar search terms. The content across these platforms had collectively garnered over half a million views, as per NCRI's analysis.


TikTok, YouTube, Scribd, and Meta have policies against promoting criminal activity.


The NCRI's director urged platforms to actively remove sextortion guides and scripts and include a dedicated category for reporting sextortion, as demonstrated by Snapchat in early 2023.

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