Sextortion is turning into a state-wide emergency and South Carolina is not immune to its harm. This form of digital blackmail consists of vulnerable people of all ages being coerced into sending their private images and blackmailed into sending thousands of dollars to prevent exposure. If you want to learn more about South Carolina sextortion and how you can protect yourself, keep reading.
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Is Sextortion a Crime In South Carolina?
Yes, sextortion is a crime in South Carolina. Although it does not have its specific law, the crime of sextortion falls under blackmail and extortion laws in South Carolina. Under SC Code § 16-17-640 (2012) Any person who verbally or by printing or writing or by electronic communications:
- Accuses another of a crime or offense.
- Exposes or publishes any of another’s personal or business acts, infirmities, or failings.
- Compels any person to do any act, or to refrain from doing any lawful act, against his will.
With intent to extort money or any other thing of value from any person, or attempts or threatens to do any of such acts, with the intent to extort money or any other thing of value, shall be guilty of blackmail and, upon conviction, shall be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned for not more than ten years, or both, in the discretion of the court.
South Carolina Sextortion Laws & Punishment
On top of extortion and blackmail laws such as SC Code § 16-17-640 (2012), sextortion also falls under cybercrime laws under the 16-16-20 Computer Crime Act.
It is unlawful for a person to willfully, knowingly, maliciously, and without authorization or for an unauthorized purpose to:
(A) directly or indirectly access or cause to be accessed a computer, computer system, or computer network for:
- Devising or executing a scheme or artifice to defraud.
- Obtaining money, property, or services using false or fraudulent pretenses, representations promises.
- Committing any other crime.
(B) alter, damage, destroy, or modify a computer, computer system, computer network, computer software, computer program, or data contained in that computer, computer system, computer program, or computer network or introduce a computer contaminant into that computer, computer system, computer program, or computer network.
Punishment for Computer Crimes in Different Degrees
The punishment for committing these crimes is as follows:
- A person is guilty of computer crime in the first degree if the amount of gain directly or indirectly derived from the offense made unlawful by subsection or the loss directly or indirectly suffered by the victim exceeds ten thousand dollars. Computer crime in the first degree is a felony and, upon conviction, a person must be fined not more than fifty thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
- Second-degree computer crime is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum fine of ten thousand dollars or imprisonment of up to one year, or both, upon conviction for a first offense. For a second or subsequent offense, a person may face a fine of up to twenty thousand dollars or imprisonment of up to two years, or both, upon conviction for a misdemeanor.
- A person is guilty of computer crime in the third degree if the amount of gain directly or indirectly derived from the offense made unlawful by subsection (1) or the loss directly or indirectly suffered by the victim is not more than one thousand dollars. A person is also guilty of computer crime in the third degree if he willfully, knowingly, and without authorization or for an unauthorized purpose engages in computer hacking.
- Third-degree computer crime is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum fine of two hundred dollars or imprisonment of up to thirty days for a first offense. For a second or subsequent offense, a person may face a fine of up to two thousand dollars or imprisonment of up to two years, or both, upon conviction.
How to Avoid Sextortion in South Carolina?
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from sextortion in South Carolina. First, it’s important to be aware of scammers who may try to get access to your information through online dating sites, social media accounts, and other digital platforms. Be cautious about who you share personal information with online and never agree to meet someone in person unless you have done extensive research on them first. Additionally, never send intimate photos or videos online unless you are sure that they won’t be shared without your permission.
Additionally, it’s important to remain aware of malicious software, such as spyware, which hackers and scammers use to gain access to your computer and private files without your knowledge. Ensure that all your devices have antivirus software installed and update them regularly with the latest security patches to protect them against potential intrusions. Consider using a secure password manager application that encrypts and stores your passwords securely on an external server to keep them away from malicious actors.
Internet sextortion poses a serious problem in South Carolina, but you can prevent it through awareness and precautionary measures such as being mindful of who you share personal information with online, refraining from sending intimate photos or videos over the internet, and installing antivirus software on all internet-connected devices.
By taking these steps seriously, victims can minimize their risk of becoming a victim of South Carolina sextortion scams while also protecting their privacy online. With the right knowledge of your legal rights and online safety, anyone in South Carolina can stay safe from sextortion threats!