57 ‘sextortion’ reports over the past year

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Fifty seven people were the victims of ‘sextortion’ attempts in the northern policing area, which includes Derry and Strabane, over the past year, the PSNI has confirmed.

The PSNI has launched a new campaign aimed at raising awareness around cyber blackmail.

It features an animation that will be showcased on the PSNI’s media channels and website over the coming months.

It depicts two different scenarios - a schoolboy and a married man talking to the same ‘woman’ online, and how easy it is to be duped by someone you’re ‘talking’ to online.

Of 167 cyber blackmail offences in the North from Septemebr 1, 2018 to September 9, 2019, 57 related to the North Area (which includes the policing districts of Derry & Strabane, Causeway Coast & Glens, Mid& East Antrim and Antrim & Newtownabbey.

PSNI Detective Supt. Rowan Moore said: “In the past year (September 1, 2018 to September 9, 2019), we have received 167 reports of cyber related blackmails across Northern Ireland.

“These reports relate to the attempted blackmail of people of a variety of ages, from teenagers to people in their 60s, as a result of footage that they have willingly participated in and which could be embarrassing if released. The culprits can ask for anything from about £200 to thousands of pounds/euros to ensure the footage isn’t released on social media platforms and although we believe most of the victims who report it to us don’t pay any money, there are some that do.”

He explained that ‘sextortion’ is a form of blackmail where a perpetrator threatens to reveal intimate images of the victim unless they give in to their demands.

“We believe these types of crimes are generally under reported and that in some cases, people prefer to pay money rather than contact police. We would urge anyone who has been the victim of cyber related blackmail to come forward and report it to police on 101 or 999 in an emergency,” he said.