'Sextortion' cases on the increase, police say, leaving victims embarrassed and out of pocket

The latest cybercrime to see a rise in popularity is a form of blackmail known as "sextortion", ITV News' Kevin Ashford reports.

The cybercrime of "sextortion" is a growing problem, according to the police.

It’s where victims are befriended – often on social networking sites – and persuaded to share intimate photos or perform explicit acts which are recorded and used for blackmail.

Some victims have lost thousands of pounds to the criminals with those targeted often too embarrassed to report the crime.

One sextortion victim says blackmailers demanded £4000 after explicit footage was recorded

One victim who spoke to ITV News said he was asked to join a text chat by a woman.

She'd invited the 18-year-old and one of his mates to be friends on the social networking site - that mutual connection meant he was less suspicious.

At first their chat was general and innocent but the woman then began an unprompted video call with him.

She persuaded him to perform an intimate act on camera which unknown to him was recorded. The video was played back to the teenager and money was demanded.

The victim said: "They were asking me for £4,000 at the start and then when I told them I couldn't afford it, they lowered it to between £150 and £200."

Despite numerous threats, the victim still refused to pay and the footage was sent to his stepmother and his dad.

The victim’s father said: "I was obviously very angry and distraught to a degree that people would go to such lengths just for money."

Sextortion appears to be on the rise. Cambridgeshire Police, for example, say on average they’re hearing about one new case every day.

The National Crime Agency have the following advice if you have been targeted.

  • Don’t panic - help and support is available.

  • Don’t pay.

  • Save the evidence such as screenshots. Save messages and images. Collect URL links to where the information is being shared online.

  • Report it to social media companies if communication happened on these channels. For example, Facebook or Instagram.

  • Report it to your internet service provider.

  • Block all communication with the person targeting you.

  • Most social media sites have rules against sharing intimate content without consent. You should be able to get the material removed.