If you meet an attractive stranger online and things soon start getting hot and heavy, then beware: You might be falling victim to “sextortion.”
British police have issued an “urgent warning” over a “sextortionist” doing the rounds in York, the Register reports, who has already claimed at least three victims.
Each time, a woman named “Cathy Wong” reached out to them on Facebook, before suggesting they talk on Skype. She subsequently “enticed them into performing an indecent act,” the North Yorkshire Police say, which was secretly recorded on video.
The men were then asked for £3,000, under the pretence that Wong’s “grandmother is ill and needs money.” When they refused, she threatened to upload the video to YouTube.
It’s not clear whether the victims paid up.
The North Yorkshire Police say that although this is the first incident of “sextortion” they have seen, they believe the scam is occurring worldwide. They’re concerned that other victims may be out there, but too embarrassed to come forward.
“The scam is causing considerable distress to the victims and I urge anyone who uses any kind of social networking site to be very wary of what they are getting into,” cautioned Detective Sergeant Rebecca Dyer. “I am concerned that there are other victims of this scam who are too embarrassed to come forward about what has happened. I urge them to please get in touch with the police. Your information will be dealt with in the strictest confidence and with sensitivity. Please do not suffer in silence.”
The Register has also flagged up an Interpol warning on sextortion indicating it’s big business for crooks. Sextortionists can operate “on an almost industrial scale from call centre-style offices… cyber-blackmail agents are provided with training and offered bonus incentives such as holidays, cash or mobile phones for reaching their financial targets.”