Posted: Mon 11th Apr 2022

Police: ‘Sextortion’ cases more than double in North Wales

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Apr 11th, 2022

Cases of blackmail over online sex pictures have more than doubled in North Wales, police have said.

Police say they have seen a significant increase in online blackmail (sextortion) offences in the region with 73 cases reported in North Wales already this year.

Figures published by the force show there were 43 cases in the whole of 2021 and 19 the year before.

Sextortion is where a victim is encouraged to use their webcam to engage in online sexual activity with the offender.

The victim is usually unaware that this activity has been recorded and they will then be presented with a demand for money.

This demand will often be accompanied by a screenshot of the victim’s social media contacts with a threat to circulate the recording if they don’t pay.

David Williams from the North Wales Police Crime Prevention Hub said: “North Wales Police want to raise awareness of this particularly sensitive and yet potentially very damaging crime.

“We know that this type of crime is hugely under-reported with some research suggesting as few as 17% of victims will make an official report.

“And the scale of the problem globally suggests that ‘sextortion’ is a profitable business for organised crime groups, which in turn suggests that many victims do pay the blackmailer.

“Plenty of advice is available for anyone who becomes a victim; however it is far better to avoid becoming a victim in the first place.

“It is accepted that many people use the internet for flirting and cybersex, but we want to warn people that someone you meet online might not be who they say they are.

“I would urge everyone to be very careful about who they befriend online, especially if you’re considering sharing anything intimate with them.”

Should you become a victim of sextortion, you can find advice by visiting the National Crime Agency website and type ‘sextortion’ in their search window.

Has this happened to you?

Don’t Panic: The first big step is to recognise you are the ‘victim’ in this and that you may require support to help you through what has happened.

Don’t pay: The choice to pay is yours but experience shows where victims have paid then there is no guarantee that offenders will not still post the recording
and are in fact more likely to come back with further demands.

Don’t keep communicating: By replying to these threats it indicates to the criminals that you are someone who may be persuaded to pay their ransom.

Do consider getting support: You can contact your local Police force (101) to report what has happened to you. This is particularly important if you are struggling to cope with the issue. If you are under 18 consider speaking to a trusted adult and additional support is also available via Child Exploitation Online Protection. (CEOP)

Who is behind this crime

We have evidence that organised crime groups – mostly based overseas ­- are behind this crime. For them it’s a low risk way to make money and they can reach many victims easily online. Victims are often worried about reporting these offences to the police because they are embarrassed.

Further help and support

If this has happened to you and you’re under 18 please talk to an adult that you trust. It may feel like there is no way out, but there are professionals who can help you. You can also get help from:

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