No shame in being victim of sextortion, gardaí say, with victims encouraged not to ‘suffer in silence’

Gardaí have commenced 72 prosecutions related to 49 investigations under Coco’s Law, enacted in February

Gardaí have released new guidance for the public on how to respond if they become a victim of “sextortion”.

Sextortion is a form of cyber extortion which involves a threat or blackmail of having intimate information, images or clips shared without consent.

The threat or blackmail may be to get the victim to do or refrain from doing something, or the threat or blackmail may be purely for money or financial gain.

Sextortion can occur in a number of ways, which include during a relationship or where a relationship has broken down – either partner can be the victim.


It can also occur during online activity, such as sharing intimate images with another online partner, either strangers or people known to you.

Juveniles involved in the sharing of intimate images, in addition to being open to potential sextortion and online bullying, should be aware that the sharing of any intimate image of a juvenile is classified as child sexual abuse material.

The Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act 2020 or more commonly known as Coco’s Law was enacted in February 2021.

To date, An Garda Síochána has commenced 72 prosecutions related to 49 investigations under the new law.

Some case examples that have been finalised before the courts include a case in April 2021 in which a woman reported an intimate image of her captured on hidden camera in the shower and circulated without consent. A man was prosecuted and sentenced to 12 months imprisonment.

In May 2021, a woman reported an intimate video had been shared without consent. Subsequently, a man was prosecuted and sentenced to 6 months, under appeal., the Irish national centre responsible for combating illegal content online, received 688 reports in relation to Intimate Image Abuse (IIA) in 2022.

There has been a 93 per cent successful removal rate by, and the removal of intimate images takes an average 0-3 days.

Detective Superintendent Ian Lackey of the Garda National Protective Services Bureau said victims of sextortion “may not necessarily realise that what they are experiencing is very serious, criminal and can be subject to prosecution.”

“We want people to know that it does not matter what age, gender, background, qualification, profession or personal circumstances you are in – this can happen to anyone. There is no shame or embarrassment to be associated with sextortion,” he said.

“We have no doubt whatsoever that there are victims experiencing this in silence, who must feel stressed or alone not knowing where to turn, but we are here to help and support.”

An Garda Síochána said it was “fully committed to supporting victims of these crimes to feel fully safe and protected.”

Victims can come forward confidentially if they have been affected by sextortion or are experiencing it at present.

An Garda Síochána advised the public to save evidence by taking screenshots and saving images as well as URL links and to report it to any Garda Station as well as via the online reporting facility available on so they can process a content removal request.

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times