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New form of extortion/blackmail attempt from another resident


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This may not be anything new, but for me this was a first. I was at a wedding in SL on Sunday, sitting quietly at a table minding my own business, when from out of the blue, someone IMd me (he was not at the wedding and did not appear to even be in the sim I was on) and said that he wondered what Fritz (my SL husband)  would think of what i was doing right now. I thought about just ignoring it, but then I thought I'd try to get some more information out of him. I asked what he was talking about and he proceeded to tell me that he had some screenshots of me in "compromising positions" and how could I convince him not to show those pictures to Fritz. Fritz and I have been together in SL for nearly four years, and I DO NOT cheat so I know for a fact there are no compromising pictures. Period. I don't even go to places like nude beaches when he isn't online. I know that trust is an issue for many relationships in SL and I refuse to compromise mine. I told him I was going to be telling Fritz about the conversation, then I blocked him and sent Linden Lab an AR.  When Fritz and I were talking about it, we wondered if this kind of attempted extortion or blackmail could possibly be a criminal act in RL? I am very concerned that he is going around contacting people trying to extort money out of them, and there are so many that DO have guilty consciences that he may just succeed. I am hopeful that LL will take this very seriously. 

Am I right to be so concerned? Or is this just another troll in SL who just needs to be ignored? Thoughts? 

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Block & Ignore and don't waste your time with it.

And yes technically if he demanded something of value to not 'show' the pictures it would be extortion.  But doing anything about that would be an exercise in futility.

If LL collects enough AR's hopefully he will wind up banned.

As a rule the biggest mistake people make with Griefers is to continue to communicate/fight with them.  That is what they live for.

Retracted.....see below.

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1)   First report to LL  (which you did)

2)  Mute the person.  Also, ban from any land you have. 

3) If you wish to let RL law enforcement know about this, you can report to the IC3 branch of the FBI.  They handle internet fraud, extortion, and scams:

http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx

 

Also, info:  http://www.fbi.gov/news/news_blog/online-dating-extortion-and-other-scams

 

Yes, I consider extortion a serious issue.  It will continue unless people actively work to stop it. 

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Perrie Juran wrote:

And yes technically if he demanded something of value to not 'show' the pictures it would be extortion.  But doing anything about that would be an exercise in futility.


I disagree.   It's only when people act to try and stop these types of criminal acts that it will cease.   To do nothing, is not an option.  (for me)

 


Perrie Juran wrote:

As a rule the biggest mistake people make with Griefers is to continue to communicate/fight with them.  That is what they live for.

This isn't your garden variety griefer, this was someone trying to extort money from others, through blackmail.  

 

The biggest mistake is to ignore and expect it to go away.  That's what they live for.  The people who do nothing to stop it.

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Yes I did all of the above.

And I agree with you. I didn't get the feeling this was a garden variety griefer. I think he is a criminal.

Unfortunately he didn't issue anything except vague threats. Perhaps I should have continued to communicate until he told me what his demands were -- money, sex, whatever -- in exchange for not showing Frtitz the "pictures" and then reported him. 

RL Law enforcement won't take my copy of the transcript of our conversation seriously, since I could easily make somethng like that up. Is it possible to get an official transcript from LL? Or is that something that has to come from a request from law enforcement? Rhetorical questions... of course.

I will contact them and see if they even want to talk with me about it. Thanks for the help!

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Unfortunately he didn't issue anything except vague threats. 

In that case, I really don't think this is something to pursue. Maybe, if he were not blocked, he might eventually get specific enough that you'd have evidence worth bringing to the attention of RL authorities.

Even then, though, it would seem to depend on the terms of the threat. It could be serious enough, but I mean, if he's demanding the L$ equivalent of fifty bucks to stop him from showing Photoshopped screenshots to the Internet equivalent of your dog-sitter, it would be pretty difficult to justify spending the time to take a report.

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Suzanne Piers wrote:

Yes I did all of the above.

And I agree with you. I didn't get the feeling this was a garden variety griefer. I think he is a criminal.

Unfortunately he didn't issue anything except vague threats. Perhaps I should have continued to communicate until he told me what his demands were -- money, sex, whatever -- in exchange for not showing Frtitz the "pictures" and then reported him.

My fault, for multi-tasking while also reading your post!   *laughs*

I thought you said that the person had tried to extort money from you.   IF NO mention of money or other actual extortion or blackmail occurred, then Perrie is correct!  Mute and move on.  (Upon re-reading your orginal post, the person may have been doing something to get you to talk about sex...which is not uncommon.  A fast mute solves it)

 


Suzanne Piers wrote:

RL Law enforcement won't take my copy of the transcript of our conversation seriously, since I could easily make somethng like that up. Is it possible to get an official transcript from LL? Or is that something that has to come from a request from law enforcement? Rhetorical questions... of course.

I will contact them and see if they even want to talk with me about it. Thanks for the help!

Well, if no actual threat occurred (you said none did?) then not sure you have anything to present to law enforcement.  The possibility that someone might be trying to do a crime is not sufficient.  Our criminal system is evidence based. 

As for a transcript, you can get that by this path:  (read the thread for "how to")

http://community.secondlife.com/t5/Everything-Else/How-can-I-find-IM-history/qaq-p/1339269

 

(I'm on Singularity, and have a "Log" option in my IM window that pulls up the log (same for local chat too)  Depending upon what viewer you have, there may be something similar that makes it easy to find your IM logs)

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Agreed. I think that people like this need to be stopped and it may be $50 RL dollars today and $2,000 RL dollars tomorrow  who knows?

Hopefully LL will take the AR seriously, and if they get enough complaints they will then contact the authorities themselves. 

It's just very concerning to me that people are going beyond the petty little "I'm gonna tell all your friends you're a douche" to trying to extort people....

Everyone be on the lookout, and AR anyone that tries this.

Thanks everyone for your thoughts. If I've stopped even one person from being victimized, then that is good.

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Well he said to me several times "What would it be worth to you for me not to show Fritz these pictures?" 

A threat? Yes. Specifically what that threat is? No. 

I do not know where something like this crosses the line.

Yes I have that chat history from my computer. However, that can be manipulated by me if I was of a mind to do so. Something official from LL that showed the chat transcript would be better. 

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Celestiall Nightfire wrote:


Perrie Juran wrote:

And yes technically if he demanded something of value to not 'show' the pictures it would be extortion.  But doing anything about that would be an exercise in futility.


I disagree.   It's only when people act to try and stop these types of criminal acts that it will cease.   To do nothing, is not an option.  (for me)

 

Perrie Juran wrote:

As a rule the biggest mistake people make with Griefers is to continue to communicate/fight with them.  That is what they live for.

This isn't your garden variety griefer, this was someone trying to extort money from others, through blackmail.  

 

The
biggest
mistake is to ignore and expect it to go away. 
That's
what they live for.  The people who do nothing to stop it.

I will retract my statements.

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"What would it be worth to you for me not to show Fritz these pictures?" is clearly blackmail, even if he didn't exactly what he wanted.

I'd report it to the FBI so at least there is a record of your complaint.  If the FBI doesn't act on the complaint now, they may very well in the future if they receive more reports against him.  Send the logs you have with the complaint.   If the FBI wants official logs of the conversation, they'll get them from LL directly with a warrant.

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Qie Niangao wrote:


Unfortunately he didn't issue anything except vague threats. 

In that case, I really don't think this is something to pursue. Maybe, if he were not blocked, he might eventually get specific enough that you'd have evidence worth bringing to the attention of RL authorities.

Even then, though, it would seem to depend on the terms of the threat. It could be serious enough, but I mean, if he's demanding the L$ equivalent of fifty bucks to stop him from showing Photoshopped screenshots to the Internet equivalent of your dog-sitter,
it would be pretty difficult to justify spending the time to take a report.

That was my main thought in referring to it as an effort in futility.'

Certainly law enforcement will take the report but acting on it may be a different matter.

I do wish we could get assurances from LL that there will be zero tolerance for these kinds of activity.

Many of us are aware of what happened at Junkyard Blues and I always appreciated what Inara Pey said when reporting on it, "Rod, I’m looking at you."   Perhaps Ebbe will be more responsive.

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Suzanne Piers wrote:

Well he said to me several times "What would it be worth to you for me not to show Fritz these pictures?" 

A threat? Yes. Specifically what that threat is? No. 

I do not know where something like this crosses the line.

Yes I have that chat history from my computer. However, that can be manipulated by me if I was of a mind to do so. Something official from LL that showed the chat transcript would be better. 

You could fax or write Linden Lab to request a copy of it.  I would send it to the attention of the Legal Dept and tell them you are filing a criminal complaint and also ask that they preserve the evidence (we don't know how long they actually save chat logs for). 

Whether or not they would send one without a Court Order would be a different story.

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Just so you know, there is nothing to worry about.

Someone experienced in photoshop could create screenshots of basically anything in SL and make it indistinguishable from real events. It's easy enough in real life and far easier in SL.

Every part of your avatar is freely for sale on the marketplace. And the name above your head is just a font like any other.

It means absolutely nothing - no matter what evidence he thinks that he has.

Rest easy :matte-motes-asleep-2:

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Perrie....Ok I never thought about the fact that this guy might manipulate a picture of me! Yikes! Fortunately my SL hubby trusts me 100% and I am not worried about that, even if the guy did try to show him some photos. I know for a fact there are NO real screenshots of me doing anything in SL like that so real ones aren't a worry, but the fake ones might be. But I'm not too worried about that.

I am more concerned at this point about the criminal nature of this activity. He needs to be stopped and hopefully prosecuted, or at the very least banned for life from SL. 

Thanks for your support. :)

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Nothing to lose by reporting them, Suzanne, and if LL gets several similar reports they might cancel his account. But then he would probably come back on an alt.

 

I reported to the FBI my 36 stolen houses being hosted on a well known ripper site, with a ton of other stolen content -- houses worth several thousand dollars -- I never heard anything and as far as I know they did nothing.

 

A common form of extortion if you are a merchant is "Refund my money or I will give you a bad review."

 

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Perrie Juran wrote: For someone to go to the extent of photoshopping pictures would seem crazy to me but then again this is SL and crazier things have happenned.

Only a seriously deranged invidual would actually go that length, and more likely on a personal revenge of some sort (enough to, in fact, not care about money) than for routine extortion of random people. Just the skills and effort necessary to produce a believable enough fake SL capture would easily surpass the few bucks's worth this person might realistically hope to extort from almost anyone.

This is just a less common variety of the classic “I know some Lindens” threat by a person who, in all likelyhood, knows most people won't be credulous and inexperienced enough to believe it and so they'll call his bluff; but as long as a few fall for it...

And yeah, as someone said, there's a chance of him being just a standard troll not truly interested in actually carrying out the extortion, as much as enjoying the would-be extortee's reaction. It's a strange way of trolling because many people will mute him far sooner than they'd do the more common jerk trying to derail conversations, but... *shrugs

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Sounds to me like the beginning of a really great 1940's detective story.....

 

The rain fell heavy on the roof on the mid August evening as I sat in my dumpy office. The water dripped through holes in the ceiling, watering my plants, before dropping harmlessly into a bucket on the floor. Cigar smoke wafted into the air, catching the fan before being propelled back into my face.

*coughs*

I heard the knock on my glass door. It was a dainty knock...a dame, obviously....

"Come on in", I coughed through the haze in my office.

The door squeaked open...pushing the smoke out the open window. It was a dame...and what a dame she was......

"Mister Monday...I...I need your help" she cried as she sat slowly down in the chair. Her long blond hair swirled around her head as she moved. She straightened her red dress as she began to speak.

I took another puff of my cigar and looked out at her....

"What can I do for you, Miss.....??"

"Piers...Suzanne Piers." She took an envelope and tossed it out on her desk. "I'm...being blackmailed"....

:matte-motes-sunglasses-3:

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Pamela Galli wrote:

A common form of extortion if you are a merchant is "Refund my money or I will give you a bad review."

 

Are you serious?? I've been in SL for six years, and yet things still continue to astound me. That people would threaten extortion for photos, and threaten merchants with bad reviews if they don't get their money back! OMG!

Pamela you are the one of the sweetest, nicest people in SL. I am so very glad you don't get jaded by people like that. Know that there are many, many more SL'ers who appreciate the kind customer service you provide. :)

 

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Tex Monday wrote:

Sounds to me like the beginning of a really great 1940's detective story.....

 

The rain fell heavy on the roof on the mid August evening as I sat in my dumpy office. The water dripped through holes in the ceiling, watering my plants, before dropping harmlessly into a bucket on the floor. Cigar smoke wafted into the air, catching the fan before being propelled back into my face.

*coughs*

I heard the knock on my glass door. It was a dainty knock...a dame, obviously....

"Come on in", I coughed through the haze in my office.

The door squeaked open...pushing the smoke out the open window. It was a dame...and what a dame she was......

"Mister Monday...I...I need your help" she cried as she sat slowly down in the chair. Her long blond hair swirled around her head as she moved. She straightened her red dress as she began to speak.

I took another puff of my cigar and looked out at her....

"What can I do for you, Miss.....??"

"Piers...Suzanne Piers." She took an envelope and tossed it out on her desk. "I'm...being blackmailed"....

:matte-motes-sunglasses-3:

LOL! That's hilarious and I wish I were just making it up! :matte-motes-confused:

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Suzanne Piers wrote:


Pamela Galli wrote:

A common form of extortion if you are a merchant is "Refund my money or I will give you a bad review."

 

Are you serious?? I've been in SL for six years, and yet things still continue to astound me. That people would threaten extortion for photos, and threaten merchants with bad reviews if they don't get their money back! OMG!

Pamela you are the one of the sweetest, nicest people in SL. I am so very glad you don't get jaded by people like that. Know that there are many, many more SL'ers who appreciate the kind customer service you provide.
:)

 

Thanks Suzanne, very sweet of you :-)  Its people like you that more than make up for the unpleasant ones!

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I agree. Hope you okay now ♥

Good thing you raised this topic Suzanne, and good advice here too. Best to be warned and ready incase it happens to any of us.

Don't Give In

Dont pay anything ....come clean. If you pay up, you have no guarantee that the blackmailer wont still go public. They are just as  likely to come back again and again demanding more and more money. Refuse to pay the blackmailer and then go public with the information yourself. And if the info is bogus, well its up to your friends what they believe. Collected/copy all transaction and keep save in case followup is needed.

Do seek legal advice if you can. Sometimes the initial consult is free.

If someone blackmails me, am I then guilty of blackmail,  if I threaten to go public with damaging information about them?

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