Blackmailers posing as women wishing to exchange sexy online chat, explicit videos and pictures are targeting men in Humberside.
Today officers are warning potential victims of the risks and offering advice on how to avoid falling for sextortion scams.
The force has received a number of reports from men who have been ‘befriended’ by women via social media, who lure them into sending explicit pictures or performing sex acts on video chat applications such as Skype.
The offenders then threaten to post the pictures or videos to social networking or video sharing sites unless their demands – often for cash – are met.
Some post further claims that the acts have been performed whilst talking to girls under the age of 16.
Dc Dan Brittain, from the force major crime team, said that there had been two similar reports in December, which saw men from Hull and York targeted.
In both cases, the men received friend requests from women they didn’t know, who claimed to be in their twenties.
The men then exchanged messages with the women, before the chat turned sexual and pictures and videos where exchanged.
Both women then posted the footage on social media, with one demanding cash and claiming her victim ran the risk of being reported to police unless he paid up.
Luckily, neither of these latest victims handed over any cash and simply blocked the offenders and deleted the pictures.
However, others have been blackmailed out of thousands of pounds and officers are keen to help prevent any further victims falling for the scam.
There are also a number of steps you can take to help prevent yourself from being targeted by similar cons.
- Remember that not everyone online is who they claim to be.
- Don’t ‘friend’ people you don’t know in real life. You don’t know who they really are or what their intentions are.
- Be wary of using private chat rooms and don’t enter into sexual exchanges.
- Don’t respond to messages that are provocative or threatening.
- If someone is aggressive or inappropriate online, most social networking sites have tools to help you block or delete that person.
- Don’t be embarrassed about seeking help if you need it. Acting quickly can limit the damage if you have sent out something you regret.
- Change your social media account security settings to prevent ‘Everyone’ been able to find and add you as a friend and send you messages
- Change your social media account security settings to prevent search engines finding your account profile
- Change your social media account security settings to prevent ‘Everyone’ from being able to view your posts, view the posts you have been tagged in and the posts that you have shared.
Dc Brittain added: “Reports indicate that this is a growing problem, with thousands of victims across the world – including those living in the Humberside force area.
“However, we do know that given the nature of these offences and the embarrassment victims feel, many don’t come forward.
“I would urge anyone targeted in this way – whether they hand over any money or not – to contact police straight away.
“There are steps we can take to investigate these kind of crimes and we are working closely with the National Crime Agency to share information and collate a picture of this kind of offending at a national level.”
For more information about protecting yourself online, visit the Cyber Security – Has It Clicked? campaign.
You can also follow @humberbeat #HasItClicked? on Twitter or visit the force Facebook page.