The Skype sex scam - a for­tune built on shame

One night a young Pales­tinian man liv­ing abroad fell vic­tim to an on­line scam, in­volv­ing a web cam­era and a beau­ti­ful woman. Here Samir (not his real name) tells the story of how he was trapped

Malta Independent - - FEATURE -

It hap­pened when I was home alone. This girl added me on Face­book. I didn’t think it was any­thing strange – I of­ten get friend re­quests from old school friends who I don’t know well.

The next day she sends me a mes­sage: “Hi, how are you? I saw your pro­file and I liked you.” So I looked at her pro­file and, I mean, she was re­ally hot.

That night she starts mes­sag­ing me via Skype. She says she’s 23, her par­ents are dead, and she lives with her older sis­ter in Si­don, Lebanon. She says she’s bored be­cause she doesn’t study or work and that her sis­ter is very strict. I ask her about her hob­bies and she says she likes sex. She loves it, she says.

“Hmm,” I thought, “this is in­ter­est­ing.” At this point I am cu­ri­ous but un­sure, be­cause it’s strange how eas­ily she’s talk­ing about sex with a stranger. But I was bored, my girl­friend was out of town, and didn’t have any­thing to do. So I fig­ured, “What the hell, I’ll chat with this girl and see where it goes.”

Even­tu­ally she asks if I have a we­b­cam. So I turn on my video and say, “Can I see you too?” She turns on her video and when I see her, you know, she is a re­ally beau­ti­ful girl. With a girl like this, you lose your head.

We con­tinue chat­ting, but only in mes­sages, not ac­tu­ally speak­ing. She says she’s afraid her sis­ter will hear her. As we’re chat­ting she tells me that talk­ing with me is turn­ing her on. I’m think­ing be­cause she lives with her strict sis­ter, in the south of Lebanon rather than in a more open place like Beirut, maybe she’s frus­trated and looks for sex­ual en­coun­ters on­line.

Then she asks me to show her my pe­nis. So I show her my pe­nis. Then I say, “OK, your turn.” She lies on the bed, un­dresses, and starts mas­tur­bat­ing. I’d never seen any­thing like it. It was so easy. Too good to be true.

So I start mas­tur­bat­ing too. She tells me to put the cam­era on my face be­cause it ex­cites her, so I move the cam­era back and forth be­tween my face and my pe­nis. After a few min­utes she pre­tends to have an or­gasm. Still naked, she comes back to the key­board to chat with me. She asks me what I do, and I tell her I work in mar­ket­ing in Mi­lan.

“Oh, so you must be rich!” she says. “Well, I get by,” I say. Then she says she hears her sis­ter com­ing, so she gets dressed and signs off.

A half hour later I get a mes­sage on Face­book. “Lis­ten,” it says, “I’m a man, and I recorded a video of you mas­tur­bat­ing. Do you want to see it?” He sends me the video. It’s about five min­utes of me mas­tur­bat­ing.

“I have a list of your friends and fam­ily from Face­book – your mum, your sis­ter, your cousins,” he says. “You have one week to send me €5,000, or I’ll send them the video.”

I was in shock. My first thought was to send him the money im­me­di­ately. But I can­cel her, or him, as a Skype con­tact and right away I get a mes­sage on What­sApp. “I’m here,” it says. So I plead with him. I tell him I don’t have €5,000. He says, “Of course you do, you have a good job in Europe.” “No,” I tell him, “that was a lie, just to im­press the girl, I’m just a pizza de­liv­ery guy.”

Then I re­mem­ber a photo I had sent her of me tiling my bath­room and I say, “Look, do you think if I were some rich guy I’d tile my own bath­room?”

He’s sort of con­vinced by this and says, “That may be true, but I don’t care. You have one week to send me €2,000. Oth­er­wise, I’m send­ing the video to your fam­ily.”

I try to calm down and think ra­tio­nally. If I send him money, what is to stop him from com­ing back and de­mand­ing more?

Then it oc­curs to me that if he sends the video to my con­tacts peo­ple he isn’t friends with – it will go to a junk in­box that noone checks. And even if they check it, I fig­ure, who is go­ing to open a video file from an un­known per­son? It could be a virus. So I have two choices: I send him the money and I have no guar­an­tee he doesn’t ask for more, or I refuse and hope no-one looks at the video.

The day comes, though, when he mes­sages me and says, “OK, I’m about to up­load the video to YouTube.”

“Up­load it,” I tell him. “I don’t care any more.”

Then I change my pri­vacy set­tings so no-one can post to my wall or tag me with­out my con­sent.

Then he sends me the link to the video on What­sApp. I watch it again. It’s me mas­tur­bat­ing, on YouTube. I feel sick to my stom­ach.

Im­me­di­ately I start re­port­ing the video to YouTube for sex­ual con­tent. I re­port it, close the page, reload the link, and re­port it again. Over and over.

He sends me a mes­sage say­ing he’s about to send the link to my rel­a­tives on Face­book if I don’t pay.

“Go ahead,” I tell him, “send it.”

I couldn’t pay him. First €2,000, then per­haps €5,000. Where would it end? He was so up­set. He starts send­ing me in­sults, telling me he’ll send the video to my mother, to ev­ery­one I know.

I keep re­port­ing the video. Each time I’m watch­ing the num­ber of views to see if any­one else has viewed it. After about an hour YouTube takes the video down.

From what I can tell, all the views were mine, ex­cept for one. That could have been him view­ing it after he up­loaded it, or one of my rel­a­tives. I’ll never know for sure, but I’ve never heard from any­one. Maybe a male rel­a­tive saw it and never told any­one.

Can you imag­ine, though, if an aunt had seen it? She would have told an­other aunt, her hus­band, her kids, soon my whole fam­ily would have known. I have fam­ily all over the world, the US, Canada, Aus­tralia, Saudi Ara­bia, the Gulf states, Europe.

And what if my mum sees this? A video of me mas­tur­bat­ing. I would have thrown my­self out the win­dow from the shame.

After the video was taken down I didn’t hear from the guy again. I imag­ine he moved on to big­ger fish. I re­mem­ber when I asked why he was pick­ing on a poor young guy like me he had said, “You think I don’t tar­get rich guys in the Gulf states? Of course I do. You’re lucky I can see from your Face­book page you’re not mar­ried, or I would be ask­ing for a lot more money.”

I think it’s over, but ev­ery now and then I check YouTube to see if he’s re-up­loaded it.

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