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Sextortion warning, North Devon

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Social media users blackmailed in online scam

Social media users in North Devon have been warned of online fraudsters targeting Facebook with a ‘sextortion’ scam.

Police are investigating three reports in the space of a week in which males from the area have been duped and blackmailed by crooks posing as young women.

The victims accepted bogus friend requests before engaging in sexual conversations and webcam interludes.

They were promptly told compromising video footage of them would be released unless they handed over money.

Criminals often work their way through a network of Facebook friends all living in the same area.

Police have issued a warning as they believe large numbers of cases will go unreported due to the embarrassing nature of the incidents.

Detective Constable Ben Cartwright, of Barnstaple CID, said: “We would like to issue a reminder to the local community about online safety.

“If you are contacted on social media by someone you don’t know, or aren’t sure that you know, and very quickly the conversation turns flirtatious or sexual – be cautious.

“It could be a trap that leads to threats to release intimate details about you onto the web if you don’t pay their demands for money.

“Unfortunately, we have seen an increase in reported incidents in North Devon with profiles representing themselves as young-adult females, some even using the names of people you may actually know in order to trick you.

“Remember – the profile picture is unlikely to be the person you are actually talking to.

“If you are contacted by someone you do not know, do not communicate with them but block them.

“If you find yourself in difficulty, or you have already paid money, contact the police immediately.

“Never given out your bank details or any other personal information.”

Full advice and guidance on sextortion can be found on the Devon and Cornwall Police website here.


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