DYFED-Powys Police is urging victims of sextortion and online blackmail to feel empowered to come forward and report incidents without feeling embarrassed.
The force has recorded seven reports of blackmail over the past three weeks, with victims being threatened that intimate photos or videos will be shared online unless they pay in cash or Bitcoin.
In some of these cases, victims have been contacted by strangers on social media and have been asked to share intimate photos or videos of themselves. They have then received threats that these images will be posted on social media unless they pay a certain amount of money to the blackmailer.
One victim reported being asked to pay £6,000 after initially being contacted through Instagram.
In other instances, victims have received emails from unknown people who claim to have sexual photos or videos of them. They threatened to share these with friends and family unless they are paid.
In light of recent reports, officers from Dyfed-Powys Police’s Digital Communications and Cyber Crime Unit have offered advice to anyone who receives similar threats online.
Detective Sergeant Rob Gravelle said: “The first thing we would urge is don’t panic, and don’t respond to blackmail threats. Report it to police immediately.
“Don’t communicate with the blackmailer further, but take screenshots of any chat history as evidence. Please also take a note of their user IDs, money transfer control numbers and any photos or video that were sent.
“If any photos or videos appear on a website or social media account, report these to the site as soon as you can. Ask for the images to be removed and for the perpetrator to be blocked.
“What is really important is for victims to feel empowered to report sextortion and blackmail without feeling ashamed or embarrassed. You are not alone, and it is very likely that other people will have been targeted by these criminals.
“Your call will be treated sensitively, and by reporting incidents you could help prevent other people from becoming victims.”
To report blackmail or sextortion to Dyfed-Powys Police call 101. If you are at immediate threat of harm, always call 999.