Police in Sussex are urging people to be vigilant after receiving a number of reports of online sextortion in the county.
Sextortion is a form of blackmail that involves threatening to publish sexual information, photos, or videos about someone. This may be to extort money or to force the victim to do something against their will.
In the last couple of weeks, Sussex Police has received a number of reports of children and young people engaging in online chats and then sending images of themselves to people they think are genuine.
The chat quickly becomes sinister when the person then threatens to share the indecent image with friends, family, and other users. The suspects are often from outside the UK and are using popular social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat.
Officers are investigating the recent reports and urging others to be vigilant when using online messaging services.
Those targeted are advised not to panic – help and support is available and most social media sites have rules against sharing intimate content without consent, making it easier to get published material removed.
Victims are also urged not to pay, to save any evidence including screenshots, messages, images, and relevant URL links, and to block all communications with the person targeting you.
Any blackmail attempts should be reported to police online, or by calling 101. We understand it might be difficult to report this type of crime to us but our officers are trained to listen and support in any way we can.
Offences should also be reported to the relevant social media company if communication happened on those channels, and also to your internet service provider.
Read more about sextortion here or find out about ways to keep children and young people safe online here.