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North Yorkshire Police warn over online 'sextortion'

Criminals using webcam blackmail to target victims.

People in North Yorkshire are being encouraged to stay safe online and avoid putting themselves at risk of becoming a victim of sextortion.

Sextortion - or webcam blackmail - refers to a very specific kind of cyber-enabled crime where victims are lured into performing sexual acts in front of their webcam.

Unbeknown to the victims, their acts are recorded by criminals who then use it in an attempt to extort money and threaten that if they do not comply with their demand, the recording(s) will be uploaded to the internet and sent to the victims’ friends and/or family via social media.

Many different people, both men and women, of all different ages, are falling victim to this type of crime.

8 ways to protect yourself from webcam blackmailers.

The most likely group of individuals to fall victim of sextortion, however, are young men between the ages of 17 and 25.

Detective Chief Inspector Allan Harder, of North Yorkshire Police, said: "Use of social media and engaging with people on the internet has become a part of everyday life. Unfortunately, however, so has cybercrime.

"More and more criminals are exploiting the speed, convenience and anonymity of the internet to commit a diverse range of criminal activities.

"Cybercrime has many guises and much of it consists of traditional types of crime being committed - or partly committed – online.

"For example, bullying, financial and identity fraud, blackmail, sexual abuse and exploitation.

"Sextortion can have long lasting effects on its victims, both emotionally and financially.

"Many people become too comfortable too quickly engaging with people online who they don't even know. It is so important to make sure that the person you are chatting to online is genuine. 

"It is really important to be aware of the online threats to your personal information, finances, identity and dignity.

"I encourage anyone who thinks they have noticed anything or anyone suspicious online to report it to the police.

"We have trained investigators and take reports seriously."

Anyone who is worried they might be a victim of sextortion, or who is concerned or alarmed by someone's behaviour online, is urged to contact police on 101.

Young people who are worried about sextortion can directly report to CEOP where they can make contact with a child protection officer who can talk through what they have experienced or are experiencing and help them to make a plan.

More from North Yorkshire Police at www.northyorkshire.police.uk/staying-safe/safer-online/sextortion