Data from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research shows blackmail and extortion rates increased over 2023 with at least 1,690 men falling victim to the crime across the state compared to 167 women over the 12-month period.

The total of 1,864 cases represents a steep 119 per cent increase since 2021, with young men constituting the majority of victims.

A university student who preferred to remain unnamed said they weren’t surprised by the figures and spoke about how a close friend had experienced an extortion attempt. 

“I think he was catfished,” he said.

“My friend was threatened online, he sent nudes to someone and then got told he had to send $1000 or they’d spread them via Facebook.”

His friend had experienced sextortion”—the growing practice of criminals using fake profiles to gather explicit photos of people and then threatening to send them to the victim’s friends and family unless a sum is paid.

E-Safety Comissioner Julie Inman Grant flagged the rise in May last year pointing out the proportion of children being targeted. Over four hundred boys under the age of 17 reported to police being blackmailed in the last 12 months along with 55 girls. 

The commissioner urged people not to engage with blackmailers if demands are made. 

“If anyone finds themselves being blackmailed online after sharing sexual content or having that content capped or screenshot, they should not engage or pay. Instead, take screenshots of the threats and user profile, and record the user profile URL. Then, report it to the platform before you block the account,” Ms Imman Grant said.

The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research will release an updated report in June.