Don’t fall prey to webcam sex blackmail

Be careful on line
Be careful on line

Police in Lanarkshire are warning web-users of the dangers from online sexual predators after new figures reveal that officers are receiving weekly reports of web-cam extortion.

Since April, 14 incidents have been reported.

The internet, great for entertainment and keeping in touch, is being used by sexual predators to cultivate online relationships, for a far darker motive.

Officers in Lanarkshire have recorded a small rise in the number of adults being targeted with webcam extortion.

This type of crime can take many forms with the common element being that someone obtains explicit images of another person, and then threatens to distribute them unless the victim pays a substantial sum of money, or supplies increasingly graphic images.

This type of crime can affect anyone.

Between April and July 2016, Lanarkshire Division received 14 reports of incidents, compared to 12 incidents between December 2015 and March 2016. The victims were men and women aged between 16 and 56 years of age. Most of these cases following the same theme:

Acceptance of a Facebook friend request from a complete stranger

Communication over hours, days or even weeks to build a relationship and obtain private information on friends, family and colleagues of the victims.

Agreement was made to enter into a video chat, usually via Facebook or Skype.

Both parties engage in sexual activity, shared with each other via webcam, but one party records the other taking part, without the victim knowing.

A demand is then made for money or more explicit images in exchange for not sending the recording to the victim’s family, friends or work colleagues.

Local Safer Communities officers work continually to highlight the dangers people can face online, including webcam extortion.

They work with a range of partners including the National Crime Agency, CEOP, UK Safer Internet Safety and local councils to deliver a preventative, interactive and educational campaign that protects children and young people from the online dangers of child sexual exploitation, cyberbullying and radicalisation.

Since November 2015 the team has delivered this program to over 20,000 children and young people, parents, guardians and professionals across Lanarkshire.

The project has just been shortlisted for a national ‘People’s Choice’ Award.

Inspector Andy Thomson, based at Mother well Police Office has issued the following advice: “Always remember that you are in control of what you say and do online.

“Be suspicious of friend requests from strangers and make sure your private information stays private.

“You have the power to end the communication at any time, so never feel pressured into doing something that you may regret in the future.

“If you do become the unwitting victim of webcam extortion – do not pay and do not communicate further.

“Take screen shots of the other person and any conversation and report it to the social media provider, deactivate (but don’t delete) your account, and then report it to the police. We will help you.”

And Detective Chief Inspector Donna Duffy added: “We recognise that making the decision to report such a crime to the police, or anyone else such as your friends or family is difficult but incredibly brave.

“Be assured that we will take your report seriously, in complete confidence and will never make judgements about your behaviour.

“You are the victim and you are our primary concern.

“Our investigation will revolve around you and your wishes.

“We will support you and do everything in our power to remove the content from the internet and bring those responsible to justice.”