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Police issue sextortion warning

Internet users could be exposing themselves to blackmail by posting intimate images of themselves, police have warned.

A police spokesman said that although only ten complaints of online sextortion were reported last year, the practice is probably much more common.

Online sextortion scams are a form of sexual exploitation where an individual is usually threatened with having personal images or videos of an explicit nature released on the internet, including to the individual’s social media contacts, unless money is paid.

The compromising images and videos may have been provided willingly during a flirtatious online exchange, or recorded without the individual’s knowledge. A typical blackmailer is likely based overseas and will request payment via any local money service business.

The spokesman advised residents to be vigilant when online, particularly when communicating with anyone only known to them through social media.

He added: “The BPS recommends that anyone facing an online sextortion scam block all further communication with the blackmailer. Do not send any money. Secure all social media accounts and keep the content of the messages, which could provide useful evidence.”

Sextortion is an offence, as outlined under the Criminal Code Amendment (Non-Consensual Sharing of Intimate Images) Act 2021.

According to the spokesman, international statistics indicate that the practice is common but believed to be under-reported, due to the embarrassment those targeted feel once the real intent of the flirtatious online communication is revealed.

Any incidents can also be reported to the BPS by calling the Criminal Investigation Department on 247-1744, or the Financial Crime Unit on 247-1757.

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Published January 12, 2023 at 7:48 am (Updated January 12, 2023 at 7:48 am)

Police issue sextortion warning

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