YOUNG men in Dorset are being blackmailed in a scam where fraudsters threaten to send explicit videos to friends and family.
One man from Beaminster and another from Weymouth have both fallen victim to the scam in the past week – but there could be countless more victims who have not reported similar incidents, police say.
Beat manager at Beaminster Police Station Tim Poole is warning internet users to beware and use sensible precautions online.
He said: “What seems to be happening is that victims are targeted through social media, such as dating websites, and arrange to meet on a video site such as Skype.
“They are then persuaded into performing certain explicit acts.”
He added: “What they don’t know is that this is being recorded. The fraudsters then send a message threatening to email the video to the victim’s friends and family.
“They tell the victim they have hacked into their emails and got all their contacts.”
The men were told to pay up to £2,000 to ensure the video was deleted.
PC Poole added: “People need to be aware of the repercussions of what could happen after getting into a conversation with someone they don’t know and performing explicit acts.
“There have been two reports of this happening this week, but I’m sure there are potentially a lot more.
“Under no circumstances should you give the fraudsters money, as there is no guarantee the video will be deleted.”
Anyone who finds themselves a victim of a scam is urged to contact police.
Shaun Powell, of Bridport CAB, said: “People should only share images or videos online that they would be happy for friends, family and others to see.
“Children and young people in particular need to take this message on board.
“People need to think carefully about what they share, and to think about the possible consequences that sharing inappropriate images or videos could have.
“What may start as a bit of innocent fun can end up for thousands of children and young people as a source of bullying, blackmail or harassment because photos or videos they thought were private were made public or carried the threat of being made public.”
To find out further detailed information about how to protect yourself or to deal with the threat of being blackmailed, please visit: http://safe.met. police.uk/internet_safety/get_the_facts.html