Teenage girls across the force area are being warned to be on their guard against online sex offenders posing as modelling agents.
There have been a number of incidents reported to Humberside Police since January – with victims in Hull and North East Lincolnshire - and it is feared others may have been targeted but are too ashamed or embarrassed to come forward.
As part of the force’s Cyber Security – Has It Clicked? campaign, officers from the Cyber Crime team are today issuing this warning and advice to teenagers and parents about avoiding falling victim to such scams, as well as what to do if you believe you have been targeted.
DS Lee Gallagher said: “The victims are contacted via the internet – be that through social networks such as Facebook, or via Skype and asked if they have considered modelling.
“They are then taken through an audition, during which they are asked to send increasingly sexually explicit pictures or videos of themselves.
“In some cases the offender then tries to blackmail the girl into sending more images by threatening to post what they have already sent online, or by passing the images to their family.”
The incidents are being investigated by the force, in conjunction with the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).
When it comes to staying safe online, prevention is key. However, if you believe you have been targeted by an offender, it is important that you come forward.
Key things to remember are:
- 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.
- Never meet up with someone you have befriended online without taking along a parent or other responsible adult.
- 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.
- Remember your family and other professionals want to ensure you are safe. Let them know all the facts so they can help you.
- If you are worried you have been groomed or coerced, report it to the police and to CEOP (https://www.ceop.police.uk/Ceop-Report/)
- 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.
- Consider changing your social media account security settings so the location data is not publicly available
Find out more information, tips and safe advice aimed at young people.
Click here to find out more about protecting yourself online and the latest on the Cyber Security – Has It Clicked? campaign.
You can also follow @humberbeat #HasItClicked? on Twitter or visit the force Facebook page.ac