Police are receiving four calls a week reporting 'sextortion' in Northamptonshire

Victims targeted by online tricksters demanding money not to post intimate snaps

Thursday, 30th September 2021, 1:03 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th September 2021, 1:18 pm
Police are warning those using dating apps to avoid becoming victims of 'sextortion'

Detectives are receiving four reports a week from victims of 'sextortion' in Northamptonshire.

Yet they believe that may be only the tip of the iceberg as cyber criminals use internet messengers and dating apps to trick people into sharing intimate images of themselves.

Many offences go unreported as victims typically admit to feeling fear, anxiety, and shame in relation to sextortion offences. Some even confess the experience has driven them to contemplate self-harm or suicide.

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Detective Inspector Simon Barnes, who leads on tackling extortion offences for Northamptonshire Police, said: “Sextortion is not a new issue, and sadly we are seeing a lot of victims falling foul of internet scammers out to exploit others for cash.

“Typically, these offences happen when someone is contacted by a stranger online, maybe through a random approach on social media, or through online dating platforms.

“Using a fake profile, often with attractive images, the offender pretends to be sexually interested in the victim and leads them to believe they want to see a photo or webcam video of them naked or performing sexual acts.

“The victim obliges, only to then receive demands for money, or face the risk of their images being shared with social media contacts, family or friends.

“In rare cases, even when people have paid over money, images are still sometimes shared, often causing utter devastation and lasting emotional harm to victims.”

Sextortion is the term used to describe blackmail cases where someone is encouraged or tricked into sharing personal images or video and is then threatened with exposure unless they send the criminal money.

Victims tend to be male and aged from young teens to men in their 40s but the force has also received reports from much older victims and women as well.

DI Barnes added: “We know lots of people use the internet for flirting or dating, but it’s so important to not get swept up in the thrill of this and send potentially compromising content to strangers, especially if you’ve only recently begun talking to them.

“If you have shared intimate images and find yourself being blackmailed as a result, please report it immediately to the police and try not to panic – you are a victim and it is not your fault. Sextortion is often carried out by sophisticated criminals who are very convincing.”

Police advise victims against paying up warning there is no guarantee that offenders will not post the pictures or recording anyway, or come back with further demands.

They also advise to stop communicating with the blackmailer since replies indicates that you can be persuaded to pay up.

Instead, keep all the evidence of what has happened and report it to police by calling 101 or online HERE who can investigate what has happened while offering advice and help.