The case of Víctor Sánchez del Amo, sacked as Malaga CF coach after an intimate video of him went viral on social media, is more common than it might seem.
In Malaga, the National Police investigate on average one report of this type a week, although these rarely hit the headlines; if the photos are published at all they are usually limited to the victim's environment and end up being a drop of water in the wide ocean of the internet.
In Sánchez's case, however, as he is a public figure, the video had been retweeted by more than 1,000 Twitter accounts and shared numerous times via WhatsApp within hours.
The coach first reported to police in Oviedo that he was being blackmailed, and later told Malaga police that the sexually explicit images were being published online.
The term 'sextortion' is used to refer to a variety of offences. This massive fraud basically involves blackmailing a victim, who is asked to pay a sum of money if he or she doesn't want an explicit video, obtained illicitly, to be published.
Sextortion began with the posting of explicit images on social networks. Now it goes further; on the other side of the webcam or mobile phone is a network of criminals trying to hack your computer, or coax you into filming a sexual video in which your face can be seen. Then comes the blackmail.
It isn't known how the video of Víctor Sánchez was obtained, but in many cases the victim - generally men - receives a friend request from a woman on social media or messenger service. This is the start of the trap. After a couple of conversations, the woman suggests continuing on Skype. The tone of the chat changes. She starts to strip off her clothes and invites him to do the same. If the camera is only focused on one part of his body, she asks him to move so she can see better. Once his face appears on the screen, that's all the criminals need.
Often, the woman isn't part of the gang; she is another victim. It is almost certainly another video obtained from the internet of a woman who has no idea she is being used to commit extortion. (The cybercriminals are able to time the conversation to fit with the images at the time the girl removes her clothes in front of the webcam.)
From then on, things get nasty. The fraudster begins to address the victim by his name and surnames, warns him that he has been filmed and threatens to pass the video to his contacts unless he pays the 'ransom'.
The police say this is often one of the dangers of open social media networks: if you are an anonymous individual, the criminals can find out who your relatives and friends are, and they threaten to send them the video if you don't pay up. If you are famous, they don't even need to know that; they just threaten to post it on social media.
Payment in Bitcoin
The sum demanded can vary. It is often between 1,000 and 2,000 euros, but Víctor Sánchez reported that he had been asked for 20,000 euros paid in Bitcoin. Although it is up to individuals to decide whether to pay or not, the police say it is better in general not to, because it won't put an end to the demands for money.
Sextortion includes fraud, extortion, revelation of secrets and crimes against privacy, and the offenders are usually difficult to identify because they are abroad and have ways of making sure their computers cannot be traced.
Collaborating with the spreading of the video, for example by retweeting it, can result in a jail sentence of between three months and one year, even if the victim consented to being filmed in the first place.