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Sextortion can happen to anyone – make sure it isn’t you

Last modified: 5 June 2017 at 03:41pm

Police are warning members of the public to stay safe online and avoid putting themselves at risk of becoming a victim of sextortion.


Sextortion (or webcam blackmail) refers to a very specific kind of cyber-enabled crime where victims are lured into performing sexual acts in front of their web-camera.

Unbeknown to the victims, their acts are recorded by criminals who then use it in an attempt to extort money and threaten that if they do not comply with their demand, the recording(s) will be uploaded to the internet and sent to the victims’ friends and / or family via social media.

Many different people, both men and women, of all different ages, are falling victim to this type of crime. The most likely group of individuals to fall victim of sextortion, however, are young men between the ages of 17 and 25.

Detective Chief Inspector Allan Harder of Safeguarding for North Yorkshire Police, said:

“Use of social media and engaging with people on the internet has become a part of everyday life. Unfortunately, however, so has cybercrime. More and more criminals are exploiting the speed, convenience and anonymity of the internet to commit a diverse range of criminal activities.

“Cybercrime has many guises and much of it consists of traditional types of crime being committed – or partly committed – online. For example, bullying, financial and identity fraud, blackmail, sexual abuse and exploitation.

“Sextortion can have long lasting effects on its victims, both emotionally and financially.

“Many people become too comfortable too quickly engaging with people online who they don’t even know. It is so important to make sure that the person you are chatting to online is genuine.

“It is really important to be aware of the online threats to your personal information, finances, identity and dignity.

“I encourage anyone who thinks they have noticed anything or anyone suspicious online to report it to the police. We have trained investigators and take reports seriously.”

There are some simple rules you can live by to help prevent you from becoming a victim of this type of crime;

  • If using Skype be alert to the fact that ‘contacts’ are not always who they say they are. If you allow a relationship to develop be guarded if unusual requests are made of you.
  • If you use online chat rooms looking for a person to chat with – be careful about any relationship that you form and in particular if you are asked to transfer to Skype.
  • Some online chat rooms have a visual contact facility so if you are looking for a person to chat with and allow a relationship to form – be guarded on what you say and do.
  • Relationships are quick to develop. End any that you are not comfortable with – stay in control of what you do.
  • Only activate your camera when you want to. Make sure it is ‘off’ at all times when not required.
  • Never allow yourself to be duped into activity that you will later regret.
  • If you make a mistake, you have doubts or you need support or advice – contact the police or a support agency immediately.
  • REMEMBER – what goes on the internet stays on the internet – for ever.

Anyone who is worried they might be a victim of sextortion or who is concerned or alarmed by somebody’s behaviour online, is urged to contact police on 101.

Young people who are worried about sextortion can directly report to CEOP where they can make contact with a child protection officer who can talk through what they have experienced / are experiencing and help them to make a plan.

To find out more visit https://northyorkshire.police.uk/staying-safe/safer-online/sextortion/

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