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We searched dockets and news stories for criminal cases in which one person used a computer network to extort another into producing pornography or engaging in sexual activity.We found nearly 80 such cases involving, by conservative estimates, more than 3,000 victims. Prosecutors colloquially call this sort of crime “sextortion.” And while not all cases are as sophisticated as this one, a great many sextortion cases have taken place―in federal courts, in state courts, and internationally―over a relatively short span of time.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.As the teenage child of one of the present authors put the matter, “You just can’t put a portable porn studio in the hands of every teenager in the country and not expect bad things to happen.” This paper represents an effort―to our knowledge the first―to study in depth and across jurisdictions the problems of sextortion.

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

When the victim opened the email, she found sexually explicit photos of herself attached and information that detailed where she worked.

Following that were details of her personal life: her husband and her three kids. The demand made this hack different: This computer intrusion was not about money.

Law enforcement authorities investigating the emails soon realized that the threatening communications were part of a larger series of crimes.

Mijangos, they discovered, had tricked scores of women and teenage girls into downloading malware onto their computers.

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