Warning: Victims’ Faces Placed on Explicit Images in Sextortion Scam

The FBI has issued a warning about criminals digitally manipulating people’s faces on to pornographic images—known as deepfaking—and then using those images to harass or extort money out of their victim in a practice known as sextortion.

The FBI said the victims include children. From the release:

The FBI continues to receive reports from victims, including minor children and non-consenting adults, whose photos or videos were altered into explicit content. The photos or videos are then publicly circulated on social media or pornographic websites, for the purpose of harassing victims or sextortion schemes.

To hear that children are now being inserted into deepfake creations is horrifying, though perhaps unsurprising. The way these attacks work is that potential victims are contacted through a variety of methods, most commonly by instant messaging apps. Here’s how the FBI describes sextortion:

Sextortion, which may violate several federal criminal statutes, involves coercing victims into providing sexually explicit photos or videos of themselves, then threatening to share them publicly or with the victim’s family and friends. The key motivators for this are a desire for more illicit content, financial gain, or to bully and harass others. Malicious actors have used manipulated photos or videos with the purpose of extorting victims for ransom or to gain compliance for other demands (e.g., sending nude photos).


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