Police have revealed the ‘shocking’ number of victims of sextortion in our area.
Since the start of the year, there have been 54 victims in York and 212 victims in North Yorkshire.
And that’s just the number of reported cases – police believe there may be many more victims who haven’t come forward.
Sextortion is a form of blackmail – “and unfortunately it’s getting more and more common”, a North Yorkshire Police spokesperson said.
It involves threatening to publish sexual information, photos or videos of someone, usually to extort money.
The force spokesperson said: “Criminals target people through dating apps, social media or pornography sites.
“They may use a fake identity to befriend you online, tell you to send them pictures or videos – and then threaten to send them to your family and friends.
“It can happen to anyone.”
What to do
What should you do if you or a loved one has been targeted? This is the police advice
- Don’t panic: help and support is available.
- Don’t pay.
- Do not communicate with the person targeting you.
- Save the evidence: take screenshots. Save messages and images. Collect URL links to where the information is being shared online.
- Report it to your internet service provider, and social media companies (like Snapchat or Facebook) if communication happened on these channels.
“The next step – and this is the important one – is to report it to the police,” said the spokesperson.
“We understand that it might be difficult to report this type of crime to us. But remember, our officers are here to listen and to support you in any way we can.”
You can report by calling 101 or via the website.
Police also suggested these online resources: