mercoledì 30 novembre 2016

Social Media Sextortion

Organised criminal gangs are blackmailing growing numbers of young boys and girls after using social media to entice them into performing sex acts on screen.
Police have revealed an unprecedented rise in the new crime of webcam blackmail - known as ‘sextortion’ - with more than 900 cases reported so far this year.
That is already more than double the total for the whole of 2015.
But senior officers at the National Crime Agency fear the true scale of the problem is far bigger, with many victims too ashamed to report their involvement to police.
Among recent victims were four young men who became so desperate at the thought of being publicly humiliated that they took their own lives.
Police are now launching a campaign to raise awareness of the problem, including an hard-hitting film to be shown on Facebook, Youtube and other social media platforms to warn of the dangers of entrapment.
The phenomenon has mushroomed alongside the use of social media by growing numbers of people, particularly in their teens and twenties.
Some of the victims are as young as 14. While the majority are in the 18 to 24 age bracket, there are also some in their 50s to 80s. More than 90 per cent of victims are male.
Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for adult sexual offences, said: “This is a really worrying, emerging new threat. As a result to this crime we’ve already had four young men in the UK kill themselves because they saw no way out of the situation they had got themselves into.”
Roy Sinclair, head of operations at the NCA’s anti-kidnap and extortion unit, added: “There is huge under-reporting of these kinds of offences, often because victims feel ashamed or embarrassed, but of course criminals are relying on that reaction in order to succeed.
“This is still a relatively new and emerging type of crime. However the trend is clear. Cases of webcam blackmail – or sextortion – are going up dramatically. As recently as 2012 we were only getting a handful of reports, now we’re getting hundreds.”
The crime is deceptively simple, typically involving the intended victim being approached through social media by an ostensibly attractive young woman who entices into engaging in explicit conversation culminating in a sex act.
As soon as the act has been caught on camera the victim receives a demand for cash, ranging typically from £50 to £500, with the treat the recorded film will be sent to all their friends and contacts - downloaded while the victim was online - and broadcast across the internet.
Behind the young woman used to enticing the victim on-screen will lie an organised crime gang, sometimes operating in the UK but frequently based overseas, targeting hundreds of other victims at a time.
British police have traced a number of the gangs to Morocco, the Philippines and the Ivory coast, where officers are working with the local authorities to help smash their operations and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Forty men were arrested in the Philippines after two raids in June following intelligence supplied to local police by British officers.
One of the cases being brought to trial involves one of the four suicide victims, though police would not reveal further details because of the extreme sensitivity of the case.
Among the other victims this year was a man in his 20s from Northern Ireland who was blackmailed after being approached on through a dating app by a young woman.
After sharing explicit photographs of himself the woman threatened to send them to his family and Facebook friends and demanded payment.
The young man, known only as Jimmy to protect his identity, sent her £150 via PayPal  before going to the police.
He said: “I was so worried about what my friends and family would think. I’ve spoken to my mum about it, that was tough enough, but I still can't talk to anyone else. I’m OK now but at the time it was so hard.”
The NCA film, featuring a young blackmailer called ‘Jess’, is to be broadcast on Facebook, Youtube and other social media platforms to warn of the dangers of sextortion.
Police advice social media users never to do anything compromising online with someone they don’t know or trust; cease all contact immediately if they receive a blackmail demand; never under any circumstance pay the blackmailer; and immediately report the matter to the police.
Assistant Commissioner Hewitt said: “This kind of offence is being perpetrated by organised crime and we will take it seriously.”

Huge rise in 'sextortion' by crime gangs using social media to entrap victims  Patrick Sawer, senior reporter 30 NOVEMBER 2016

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