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So first off, let’s start by saying that I’m insanely stupid for letting this happen. I’m currently a doctor early in my career. I was on a dating app and I sent nudes (No face showing).

It turns out I was texting scammers which were making demands for money and they threatened to send the pics to everyone I know as they had my list on my instagram, LinkedIn and fb. (Screenshots of conversations with my display picture and chats showing). They have also uploaded screen recordings on a porn website but deleted it after I blocked them.

I have since blocked the scammer and secured my online identity. This happened 2 months ago and the scammer seems to have given up. I called the police today and they said that the nudes are unlikely to be leaked as these scammers scam 5-10 people a day. Also, they’re probably scamming from another country so it would be virtually impossible to catch them.

Will it affect my career moving forwards if my nudes get leaked?

The scammer knows my first and last name. I have middle names that the scammer doesn’t know of and I was wondering if I should use those names for research publications.

Can this hurt my career prospects? For example, getting kicked out of a residency program (Medical training necessary for doctors to progress into specialists)?

Would it be fine to use my first and middle names for work related reasons?

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    " I was on a dating app and I sent nudes " that is not stupid, it is your personal choice and we live in a free world (or at least we try to). It is what they are doing to you that is beyond stupid: it is criminal.
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Nov 16, 2022 at 17:24
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    I do not think the clinical aspects are on-topic here, and without that, this is a duplicate of edelweiss' comment. Commented Nov 16, 2022 at 20:41
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    The question about publishing all your papers under a different name has also been covered before, see for example: Can I use only one of my two last names for publishing? (that said, I think this would be an overreaction; as the police said, the odds that the scammers take further action after 2 months is negligible).
    – cag51
    Commented Nov 16, 2022 at 21:21
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    I think the answer will depend much upon where you work. In Iran, this might be a serious problem. In Sweden, not really. // If no face is showing, except in screenshots with a profile picture, you can simply deny it is you. Screenshots are easily Photoshopped, everyone knows that. Tell them you got a spam message from blackmailers but you paid it no attention, and now they have apparently sent around some random pictures from the Internet to spite you. By the way, your actual blackmailers will know they cannot achieve anything this way, except perhaps police attention.
    – Cerberus
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 1:21
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    My two cents: I have had some intimate webcam recordings of a contact of mine sent to me as (presumably) a form of revenge porn. That was weird, but they have gotten over it quickly without any significant impact on their career. In such situations, scammers always prey upon you being stressed and perceiving something relatively benign as a huge issue. Take a deep breath, do not let your brain run wild, assume this information is out to the public. The more mundane it seems, the fewer issues it will create; humans are terrible creatures and would only pry more if you are seen hiding something.
    – Lodinn
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 13:24

3 Answers 3

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There are five reasons this is unlikely to be of any consequence;

  1. Having a personal life is not any kind of academic misconduct, no body is kicking you out over this. Everyone with a lick of sense realises that most other people have a personal life. At worst, it looks like you have poor judgement in who you chose to have a personal life with.
  2. The world is a big place, even if the scammer sent the images to everyone you know (and how would they get that contact list?), the set of everyone you know probably contains almost no one who will make future hiring decisions about you.
  3. The fact that they haven't sent them in the last 2 months makes me think they probably won't anyhow. They probably don't want to be arrested, revenge porn is a crime in most places.
  4. Just posted on the web, they are also unlikely to be seen by anyone relevant to you. If anyone who does make a hiring decision about you looks further than the top 3 google results you are lucky. Keeping the first page of your google results clean is not difficult; make yourself a linkedin/orcidID/twitter and post work appropriate content. That's a good idea anyway, you should have a professional online presence.
  5. In the age of deep fakes, nobody will even be confident these nudes are real. Google any famous name + nudes, and you will probably get images that look like that person, mostly, they aren't real. The better the tools get, the more likely that explanation becomes, so in the long run, no nudes are credible.

It's a really frustrating experience, but it's really unlikely to have a material impact on your career.

The only thing you might want to do is decide how you will respond if a friend/colleague does tell you they were sent your nudes. That's more a matter of taste than anything else, but you might decide to tell them the truth and make a joke of it - "Someone I was exchanging nudes with tried to extort me, but my nudes are excellent, so I'm not ashamed. Sorry if you saw more than you wanted to, I hadn't meant them to be passed around like that.". Decent people will be sympathetic, and making a joke of it makes the conversation less awkward.

Finally, it may bring you some comfort to know you are in good company; similar misfortune befell a new york city councillor recently. The response was pretty sympathetic.

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    Thank you very much! It did bring me comfort indeed. I appreciate the detailed answer. Might use that response if a colleague does ask me about it!
    – user164704
    Commented Nov 16, 2022 at 18:45
  • The response was pretty sympathetic - Which response? The article suggests to me this exposure didn't help his campaign (no endorsements).
    – Kimball
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 8:24
  • (Not trying to be critical, just confused---I like the rest of your answer)
    – Kimball
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 8:25
  • @Kimball good point. Adding response to twitter statement at the time (78.6k likes).
    – Clumsy cat
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 12:42
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    Point 3. is not applicable. This is a blackmail scam, not revenge porn. They've presumably already broken the law by blackmailing the OP. Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 12:53
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Oof I am so incredibly sorry. In terms of residency: I think it would be unreasonable for a residency director to kick you out of residency for this. You are the victim here, and honestly if a residency program were to kick you out for this, that really shows that they themselves are lacking empathy.

I am a PhD researcher, and have been in academia for awhile; I would be very surprised if anyone cared about your nudes, my perception is that researchers tend to be more forgiving and relaxed about these things. God knows many academics have history of harassment and no-one bats and eye, so I really don't think you should be worried.

I would continue to pursue a legal course of action through the police if possible. I think the scammers will probably give up; I don't get the feeling that these guys are going to try to stay organized with random nudes for years and years.

And also just in general, I am so so sorry for this happening to you. Also, I think it is a huge win that your face is not in the photos; you can always say it isn't you!

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You can use whatever name for publication.

I would even suggest go ahead with using your middle names, even without all this terrible and unfortunate issue. It will help distinguish you from people with similar names.

The only potential problem is with linking different names (see similar problem for people getting married). But this depends on how big is your cv, and how much publications you are ready to loose in the (useless and shameful) metric computations (in the worst case, and thanks to all the data miner like google scholar that make their algorithm obscure and irresponsive to customers and content producers, aka scientists).

Overall, I think you are on the safe side, the scammers have some nudes and they can photoshop whatever name and portrait on top of the conversations screenshots. Are their efforts worthwhile? if you start to give in to their requests, yes, their efforts will be worthwhile and you will be their golden egg chicken.

I know it is a bold statement, but maybe you should go the Jaromir Jagr way (NHL ice-hockey star blackmailed to not publish pictures of him with a 18-yrs model ... his response "I don't care").

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  • Thank you for the reply. Do you think using two names for publications would cause any problems down the line?
    – user164704
    Commented Nov 16, 2022 at 18:46
  • @Patrick I am not sure what are the conventions in your field, but ORCID is an attempt of providing every researcher with an unique digital id (with all due diligence with respect to privacy, safety, openness of the code&co.). Check their guidelines automated recognition and "merging" of different names. I expect it not to be a problem. Worst case you have one line to add in the cover letter, to clarify why you have different names in your publication lists (for example if you mark with bold your name).
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 7:45