The National Crime Agency has released a Youtube video aimed at warning potential victims of the danger they face from ‘Sextortion’.
Northumbria Police are supporting a national campaign to block out ‘sextortion’, as the issue is said to be significantly under-reported.
‘Sextortion’ is a form of blackmail where criminals use fake identities to befriend victims online before persuading them to perform sexual acts in front of their webcam.
These webcam images are recorded by the criminals who then threaten to share them with the victims’ friends and families unless they are paid.
Victims in the NCA cases are aged between 14 and 82, with the highest proportion being men aged between 21 and 30.
Four men have reportedly committed suicide in the last year after falling victim to the crime.
In response to the increase the NCA and National Police Chiefs’ Council have launched a new campaign, supported by Northumbria Police, to give advice to those who have been, or are likely to be targeted.
Paul Knox, Northumbria Police’s Detective Chief Inspector has said: “Be careful who you contact online would be the initial guidance. Further to that, be careful who you have sex with online.
“Take some basic steps to protect yourself, and don’t engage with people you don’t know. By contacting the police you have taken the first step to recognising that you are a victim of the crime.
“The Police will not make judgements on your behaviour, we are hear to support you and reassure you.”
The NCA’s message to those who are targeted is ‘dont pay and don’t panic’. They remind the victims that you are not alone, and confidential support is available.