Warning of rise in webcam extortion

Security concept: computer keyboard with word Cyber Crime, selected focus on enter button background, 3d render
Security concept: computer keyboard with word Cyber Crime, selected focus on enter button background, 3d render

Police in Lanarkshire are warning web-users of the dangers from online sexual predators.

Officers have recorded a small rise in the number of adults being targeted with webcam extortion, as the Division received 14 reports of incidents between April and July, compared to 12 between December and March.

This type of crime can take many forms with the common element being someone obtains explicit images of another person, and then threatens to distribute them unless the victim pays a substantial sum of money, or supplies increasingly graphic images.

It can affect anyone with the most recent victims being men and women aged between 16 and 56.

Local Safer Communities officers work continually to highlight the dangers people can face online, including webcam extortion.

They work with a range of partners to deliver a campaign that protects children and young people from the online dangers of child sexual exploitation, cyberbullying and radicalisation.

Since November 2015 the team has delivered this program to over 20,000 children and young people, parents, guardians and professionals across Lanarkshire, and has been shortlisted for a national ‘People’s Choice’ Award.

Inspector Andy Thomson, based at Motherwell police office, said: “Always remember that you are in control of what you say and do online.

“Be suspicious of friend requests from strangers and make sure your private information stays private. You have the power to end the communication at any time, so never feel pressured into doing something that you may regret in the future.

“If you do become the unwitting victim of webcam extortion – do not pay and do not communication further. Take screen shots of the other person and any conversation and report it to the social media provider, deactivate (but don’t delete) your account, and then report it to the police. We will help you.”

Detective Chief Inspector Donna Duffy added: “We recognise making the decision to report such a crime is difficult, but incredibly brave.

“Be assured we will take your report seriously, in complete confidence and will never make judgements about your behaviour.

“You are the victim and you are our primary concern, our investigation will revolve around you and your wishes. “We will support you and do everything in our power to remove the content from the Internet and bring those responsible to justice.”