You don’t have to be high-profile to be the victim of blackmail. By virtue of your success, you may be targeted by a hostile party, and be subject to acute emotional and reputational consequences - through no fault of your own.

Our client, a prominent executive, received an email threatening to expose sensitive images of them unless they paid £50,000. If they refused to, the criminals would publish these images taken from a video. The client is single and was under the belief he was communicating with a real person with whom they had been ‘chatting’ for several weeks. They had met online and the individual appeared in the clients social media network, connected to several of their friends.

The client responded, claiming they do not have access to those types of funds and has tried negotiating a reduced fee. The blackmailers increased the pressure, messaging the client every few hours demanding payment and claiming that If they did not pay, the images would be sent to the client’s adult children and colleagues before publishing across social media.

What we did

We told the client to cease all engagement with the client. This would only embolden them and cause the client increased distress. Our cyber and intelligence teams began by reviewing the clients online profile, that of the individual with whom he had engaged online. The team also began monitoring for evidence of any of the material being leaked online.

Meanwhile our legal team prepared a legal letter to be sent to the blackmailer, informing them of the legal implications of their actions. This also stated that the client would be willing to hold off on this action, if they received assurances that the material had been destroyed/returned. In anticipation of the material being leaked online, letters were also prepared to be issued to the social media providers and media.

We advised the client on enhancing the privacy settings on their social media profiles. We also advised that they speak to their immediate family, as a means of removing some of the blackmailer’s leverage. Only once all the necessary safeguards were in place did we engage with the blackmailers.


We spoke to the blackmailers and explained that we were working on behalf of the client and that all communication would go through us. They were naturally aggressive and immediately threatened to release the information. We followed up our conversation with the pre-prepared legal letter.

Shortly after, some material did appear on social media mentioning the client. Much of this breached the providers own T&C’s, so we immediately removed by them. By refusing to engage and blocking avenues by which they could publish the stolen material we frustrated the criminals. In removing their leverage, it also removed a point of pressure on the client.

Communications ceased soon after and the client heard nothing further. Our own research pointed toward this being part of a criminal enterprise.

Need help with a similar situation?

Schillings represents high-net-worth individuals, families, C-Suites and global businesses. We advise on high-value and complex issues relating to protecting privacy, security and reputation.

To discuss how we can help you please call +44 (0)20 7034 9000