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Our key findings include: The paper proceeds in several distinct parts.

We begin with a literature review of the limited existing scholarship and data on sextortion.

Sextortion thus turns out to be quite easy to accomplish in a target-rich environment that often does not require more than malicious guile.

Later in the day, to underscore his seriousness, the hacker followed up with another email threatening the victim: “You have six hours.” This victim knew her correspondent only as [email protected], but the attacker turned out to be a talented 32-year-old proficient in multiple computer languages.

Located in Santa Ana, California, his name was Luis Mijangos.

Teenagers and young adults don’t use strong passwords or two-step verification, as a general rule. They sometimes record pornographic or semi-pornographic images or videos of themselves.

And they share material with other teenagers whose cyberdefense practices are even laxer than their own.

In at least one case, he posted nude photos of a victim on the Myspace account of a friend of the victim, which Mijangos had also hacked, after she refused to comply with his demands.

To make matters worse, Mijangos also used the computers he controlled to spread his malware further, propagating to the people in his victims’ address books instant messages that appeared to come from friends and thereby inducing new victims to download his malware.

Each involves an attacker who effectively invades the homes of sometimes large numbers of remote victims and demands the production of sexual activity from them.

Sextortion cases involve what are effectively online, remote sexual assaults, sometimes over great distances, sometimes even crossing international borders, and sometimes―as with Mijangos―involving a great many victims.

If the prosecutorial estimates in the various cases are to be believed, the number of actual victims probably ranges between 3,000 and 6,500―and, for reasons we explain below, may be much higher even than that.

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