eWhoring is the term used by offenders to refer to a type of online fraud in which cybersexual encounters are simulated for financial gain. Perpetrators use social engineering techniques to impersonate young women in online communities, e.g., chat or social networking sites. They engage potential customers in conversation with the aim of selling misleading sexual material -- mostly photographs and interactive video shows -- illicitly compiled from third-party sites. eWhoring is a popular topic in underground communities, with forums acting as a gateway into offending. Users not only share knowledge and tutorials, but also trade in goods and services, such as packs of images and videos.
Hutchings and Pastrana analysed 6,519 posts, written by 2,401 members, in 297 threads on a hacker forum to be able to understand the process by which this crime is generally committed. Script analysis breaks a crime into a series of 9 steps from the preparation for the act to the after the act; namely preparation, entry , pre-condition, instrumentation pre-condition, instrumentation initiation, instrumentation actualization, doing, post-condition and exit. Those becoming involved in eWhoring start by learning from tutorials available online on hacking forum websites. They then build a set of images, both implicit to sell the veracity of their character and explicit to sell to a consumer. Next they create a character, complete with a backstory, alias and the accounts needed to engage with potential victims. They then create profiles in order to engage with consumers that make contact. A negotiation takes place to secure a price (for the transfer of images). After the payment is received, the product is provided to the consumer. After the transaction, the consumer is either discarded or maintained as a “good customer’ and targeted with other fictitious personas or potentially with other scams. eWhoring is a fraudulent practice that sells fictitious sexual encounters and can harm the customer, legitimate businesses, and creates a market for stolen intimate images.
Our specialist eWhoring fraud investigations team are able to identify victims’ images that have been leaked online and provide a full, comprehensive report on the domains that these images are being used on and IP addresses, eventually the users of social networks and their phone numbers.
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