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Are you a victim of Sextortion?

By Gianna D’Onofrio, Guest Writer

On Behalf of | Mar 22, 2024 | Public Law

Are you a victim of Sextortion?

Sextortion is a form of extortion in which a perpetrator threatens to expose sexually compromising information (such as sexually explicit private images or videos of a victim) unless the victim meets certain demands.

These demands can take the form of requests for money, more images, or threats to leak the explicit images online and/or share them with a victim’s friends, family, or colleagues if they do not comply.

Many individuals have experienced sextortion in the following form: sharing an intimate or explicit image with a partner or trusted individual, the relationship turning sour or exhibiting forms of abuse, the victim trying to sever the relationship, and the perpetrator engaging in sextortion of the victim by making demands and threatening to expose the images if the demands are not met. Ot the abuser will share the images with others who will make those demands or threats.

Another common situation in which sextortion arises is via hacking. Hackers often access a victim’s private images and engage in ongoing blackmail of the victim in attempt to obtain more images or money. This often leaves victims feeling alone and helpless. You shouldn’t live in fear and shame.

Sextortion is Illegal in NJ

In May 2023, NJ Governor Phil Murphy signed into law a bill that officially made sextortion a third-degree crime punishable by up to five years in prison, $15,000 in fines, or both. The bill comes at a time when acts of sexual extortion are on the rise, largely due to the platform that the digital age creates for bad actors. Prosecutors can now identify, convict, and punish criminals who engage in this behavior.

Legal Help

Consulting an attorney can ensure that you are advised on the laws of your state and assist you in pursuing legal action when necessary. Some laws that may apply in sextortion cases include:

  • Revenge Porn or Cyber Exploitation—a felony in NJ that is punishable by three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
  • Extortion—under N.J.S.A. 2C:20-5, extortion is a crime of the second degree, punishable by five to ten years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
  • Stalking or Harassment—considered a petty disorderly person’s offense punishable by a maximum of thirty days in jail, fines, or community service.

There are also civil remedies, from cease-and-desist notices to lawsuits for money damages, that are available.

Victim Resources

If you are a victim of sextortion, you are not alone. Sextortion is more common than most people think. From October 2021 to March 2023, the FBI and Homeland Security Investigations reported nearly 12,600 victims of sextortion.

Victims should collect evidence of the extortion and block the extortionist as soon as possible. Relevant evidence includes threatening messages or images sent to the victim, usernames, phone numbers, or profiles used to contact the victim, and any information related to monetary transactions. This information can be crucial in apprehending the perpetrator.

Victims of sexual extortion can report incidents via the NJCCIC Cyber Incident Report Form (, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (, their County Prosecutor’s Office Sex Crimes Unit, or their local police department.

Or contact Mike Farhi, confidentially, at [email protected]. Always use a personal, not a work, email address. We don’t judge – we listen – and try to help.

Gianna D’Onofrio is a third-year law student at Seton Hall University School of Law with a passion for Corporate Law. Upon graduating in the Spring and taking the Bar Exam, she will serve as a law clerk to Judge Cynthia Santomauro in Essex County, Civil Division.

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