Spike in online sextortion cases prompts police appeal

Online Sextortion Stock Image Anonymous
The offence involves criminals threatening to reveal intimate images of a victim online unless they give into their demands. Credit: UTV

A recent spike in online sextortion cases has prompted the PSNI to advise anyone who falls victim to the practice to report it.

Police believe these types of crime are generally under reported and that some people are paying money rather than contacting them.

in his appeal Detective Inspector Kelly said, “Please be aware that criminals might befriend victims online by using a fake identity and then persuade them to perform sexual acts in front of their webcam.

"Criminals then threaten to share the images with the victims’ friends and family. This can make the victims feel embarrassed and ashamed, and prevent them from coming forward to report the incident."

“Perpetrators can be located anywhere, targeting a number of people, targeting victims through dating apps, social media or webcams. Many are based overseas. For the criminal, this is a low risk way to make money and they can reach many victims easily online," DI Kelly added.

"Criminals will always exploit any opportunity to extort money from unsuspecting members of our community, but together we can stop it.

"Even though it may be embarrassing, anybody who is the victim of such a crime should be reassured that we are able to deal with it and we will have dealt with these scenarios before."

Stock image Credit: UTV

One victim of sextortion has come forwards to raise awareness surrounding the issue.

The 21 year old man, who prefers to remain anonymous, says he was duped into performing a sexual act on camera after accepting a random friend request on Facebook from a fake profile.

He was then threatened with the fake profile saying they would send the video to all of his Facebook friends unless he sent over £500.

After being blackmailed, the 21 year old spoke to his mum who encouraged him to report the incident to police.

In the end, nothing came of the cyber threats despite the victim not handing over the money

Following the recent spike in cases like 21 year old man's, the PSNI has published advice to make sure others don't end up in the same scenario:

  • Do not share intimate videos online

  • Do not get lured into compromising situations online such as removing clothes

  • Remember that what goes online may well stay online

  • Be wary about who you invite or accept invitations from on social networking sites

  • Update the privacy settings on your social networking accounts

  • Do not include any sensitive, private or confidential information in profiles

  • Be careful on online dating sites

  • Block nuisance and fraudulent users from further contact with you and also report them for abuse

  • Do not respond to blackmailer's demands if you become a victim of a scam

  • If you think that you have been persuaded by anyone to part with payment details, contact your bank or card issuer immediately.”

Further advice can be found on the Get Safe Online website or on the PSNI Advice website.

Anyone with any concerns is being urged to ring 101 or report it to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.