Mijangos’ actions constitute serial online sexual abuse—something, we shall argue, akin to virtual sexual assault.
As the prosecutor said in the case, Mijangos “play[ed] psychological games with his victims” His victims reported signs of immense psychological stress, noting that they had “trouble concentrating, appetite change, increased school and family stress, lack of trust in others, and a desire to be alone.” * * * As bizarre as the Mijangos case may sound, his conduct turns out to be not all that unusual.
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.
This is the new playground.” But while the FBI has issued numerous warnings about sextortion, the government publishes no data on the subject.
Unlike its close cousin, the form of nonconsensual pornography known as “revenge porn,” the problem of sextortion has not received sustained press attention or action in numerous state legislatures, in part because with few exceptions, sextortion victims have chosen to remain anonymous, as the law in most jurisdictions permits. The 78 cases we reviewed alone involve at least 1,397 victims, and this is undoubtedly just the tip of the iceberg.
The perpetrator wanted a pornographic video of the victim.
And if she did not send it within one day, he threatened to publish the images already in his possession, and “let [her] family know about [her] dark side.” If she contacted law enforcement, he promised he would publish the photos on the Internet too.
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.
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.
In it, we look at the methods used by perpetrators and the prosecutorial tools authorities have used to bring offenders to justice.