Northumbria Police is warning internet users to be on their guard against ‘sextortion’.
The practice sees a victim being lured by another person online into undressing and sometimes performing intimate acts in front of a webcam. Unbeknown to the victim, this footage is recorded and they then receive threats that it will be posted online or shown to their contacts on social media unless a fee – usually a substantial amount of money – is paid.
Although this is happening across the country, Northumbria Police has taken recent similar reports and is urging people to be on their guard against it.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Milner, Northumbria Police lead for extortion, said: “We have taken recent reports of incidents of this nature happening in our force area and want to warn people about it. Men and women of any age and from anywhere can fall victim to this so we would advise all internet users not to get lured into compromising situations online.
“Always remember, what goes online can stay online – even if something is deleted from one site, others may have copied and shared it across the internet. Our advice would be don’t do anything online that you wouldn’t ever do in public or want to be seen in public.
“Be wary of who you invite or accept invitations from on social-networking sites and never accept friend requests from complete strangers - you wouldn’t do this in real life. People are advised to update the privacy settings on their social networking accounts to allow only those that know them to view their account.
“The impact on the victim can be devastating, but people need to know help is available at any time. By reporting the matter to police, investigations can be carried out. We understand victims may feel embarrassed but they can be reassured that officers will carry out enquiries with the absolute sensitivity.”
People can contact police on 101, extension 69191 or via the Northumbria Police website, where more information on staying safe online can be found.