Sextortion alert by cops
KINKY thrillseekers looking for excitement by sharing pictures of themselves via texts and online have been urged to steer clear of becoming a victim of ‘sextortion’ to criminal gangs and other crooks.
Sergeant Chris Maddocks, of Runcorn Local Policing Unit, said there have been several cases in the town.
He said sexual extortion, nicknamed ‘sextortion’, mainly comes in the form of blackmail, with perpetrators threatening to publish pictures of their victims in compromising situations unless they receive payment of some kind.
The crime can span all ages from children to OAPs and has boomed with the rise of smartphones, webcams, the internet and trends such as ‘sexting’ – sending sexual content via text messages.
Victims and perpetrators might know each other or they might never have met if images have been shared online.
Sometimes culprits even pose as attractive, flirtatious and exotic love interests that are entirely fake in order to persuade their intended prey to send intimate videos, known as ‘catfishing’.
Organised crime gangs are among those committing the crime, luring victims via fake social media profiles then making demands with menaces once they have some pictures that could be deemed embarrassing if made public or sent to friends and relatives.
In May, the National Crime Agency (NCA) warned that sextortion affecting male victims has reached record levels, rocketing to three times the number of cases reported two years ago. ●
The NCA’s anti-kidnap and extortion unit received 1,304 reports from UK police forces in 2017, but figures are expected to be much higher.
It said evidence suggests that sextortion is predominately committed by overseas criminal gangs, targeting young males aged 17-25 with an increasing number of British Armed Forces personnel being sextorted.
Men over 60 are also often vulnerable to blackmail, the figures indicate, and the impact can be ‘devastating’, with at least five UK suicides linked to it.
Victims have been reassured they will be taken seriously and in confidence.
They are advised not to make any payments, stop all communication with the blackmailer, keep all evidence and contact the police.
Runcorn police have warned via social media that residents need to be switched on and vigilant about the risks around sharing intimate images.
Sgt Maddocks said: “We’ve had cases of sextortion in Runcorn and it’s a growing figure locally and the reason for that tweet was to make sure that people are aware that what they do on the internet could have real life consequences.
“The message is to remain cautious about who we’re speaking to, how well we know that person online and do we want to send them intimate photographs of ourselves.”
Sgt Maddocks warned that under-18s engaging in sexting with each other where there is no intent to commit blackmail can be prosecuted anyway for sharing indecent images of children and then to live with such a criminal record, although some caveats exist for over-16s in long-term relationships.
Call Cheshire police on 101.
Don’t strip off on camera: who’s really watching?