North Wales Police are urging the public to be aware of online ‘sextortionists’ who blackmail victims by threatening to post explicit footage of them on the internet.
Over recent months a number of people have contacted officers after being instructed to pay large sums of money into offshore bank accounts.
Victims have been asked to pay a significant amount of cash by money transfer to an offender who threatened to post the compromising images to other sites whilst notifying their family and friends via social media.
DC Nicholas Hawe from North Wales Police’ Cyber Crime Team said: “Webcam blackmail is a fairly new area of crime, and it generally involves the victim being encouraged into taking their clothes off in front of their webcam, while communicating via platforms such as Skype. They may also be enticed into performing sexual acts.
“Offenders target their victims via Facebook or other social media sites, before moving onto a platform where the activity can be captured on video. While the whole things can appear very plausible and genuine, it is only once the victim has removed their clothing on camera, that demands are made and the reality becomes clear.
“Generally the videos are not actually distributed, but it is still a difficult and traumatic ordeal for the victim, as they are worried about the consequences.
“The blackmailers are calculating and malicious, with a total disregard for the people they are exploiting.
“These cases are very complex and difficult to resolve. The contact with the victim is usually from foreign countries, which can sometimes make it difficult to detect.
“The best way to prevent these criminals from committing such offences is by not taking part in such activity – no matter how believable the person making contact might appear.”
Officers are urging people to take the following steps to avoid falling prey to this type of crime.
· Know who you are inviting or accepting invitations from on social media. Don’t accept friend requests from total strangers
· Ensure that your privacy settings on your social networking accounts are set to only allow friends to view your profile
· Never get lured into anything in front of your webcam. Always remember that what goes online may stay online
· If you do become a victim to this type of scam, do not respond to the blackmailer’s demands, but report the issue to the police and the relevant social networking site.
Further advice is available via https://getsafeonline.org/