Police in Hertsmere are reminding people to be careful about what they share online, especially those who use chatrooms and online dating sites, or who are following people they do not personally know on social media. This follows an increase in reports of sextortion.
Police have seen a recent increase in reports of people being blackmailed. Sadly, criminals are befriending victims online by using a fake identity and then persuading them to send photos or show themselves intimately on their webcam.
There have now been numerous cases reported to us where people have been blackmailed by the recipients, who are not the person as first thought from their profile and who are threatening to share the photos and videos with the victim’s friends or family unless they receive a monetary payment.
Neighbourhood Sergeant for Borehamwood and Elstree, Matt Cann said: “We are experiencing an increase in these types of incidents, which are affecting both male and female victims, and cause real distress. In some cases money, often hundreds of pounds, has been sent to the offender.
“The best way to stop yourself from becoming a victim is to be very careful about who you befriend online, especially if you’re considering sharing anything of an intimate nature with them. Once something has been sent or recorded via webcam, you can’t get it back and you have no idea where it will end up.”
What to do if you're a victim of sextortion
If someone threatens to share explicit images of you unless you pay them money:
Don't communicate further with the criminals. Take screenshots of all your communication. Suspend your account (but don’t delete it) and use online reporting process to report the matter to your internet service provider, YouTube etc to have any video blocked and to set up an alert in case the video resurfaces.
Don't pay. Many victims who have paid have continued to get more demands for higher amounts of money. In some cases, even when the demands have been met the offenders will still go on to post the explicit videos. If you have already paid, check to see if the money has been collected. If it has, and if you are able, then make a note of where it was collected from. If it hasn't, then you can cancel the payment - and the sooner you do that the better.
Preserve evidence. Make a note of all details provided by the offenders and any photos/videos that were sent. Do not delete any correspondence.