Online ‘Sextortion’ Is on the Rise

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Vallee hacked the accounts of eight other women over the next year. What he did is known as sextortion, a growing online practice in which criminals obtain sexual photos of their victim and then threaten to expose the images if the victim doesn’t send more or comply with other demands. “It’s blackmail, but instead of the reward being financial, it’s a sex act,” says Brooklyn lawyer Carrie Goldberg, who regularly represents sextortion victims.

When Vallee pleaded guilty in late August, it was for computer fraud and identity theft, since sextortion is not currently listed as a specific offense. That’s an oversight two U.S. congresswomen are trying to change with the Interstate Sextortion Prevention Act, a bill they introduced in July as part of a growing push against the manipulative threat. “We are seeing anecdotally that these cases are exploding,” says

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