Police plan to stop ‘intimate’ scams

by John J. Williams

Consumer Protection and the WA Police Department are sounding the alarm after a rise in reports of teens and young adults being targeted by ‘sextortion’ scams.

The victims, who are approached on social media by scammers using fake profiles, are tricked into recording or sending sexually explicit videos and photos.

Then there are threats to put intimate images on the internet and forward them to family, friends, partners, or employers unless money is paid.Police plan to stop 'intimate' scams

Consumer protection commissioner Gary Newcombe said the targets face major emotional problems and financial losses.

“The threat of intimate images being shown publicly has a devastating impact on all those targeted, even those who don’t pay, but younger people are especially vulnerable,” said Mr. Newcombe.

“The ruthless scammers put their victims in a very embarrassing situation, where they are made to believe that their lives could be ruined if the images are posted or shared on social media, or sent to family, friends, partners or colleagues,” he said.

“It’s important that people who are being blackmailed don’t send money because the demands are only increasing.”

Mr. Newcombe says victims should get confidential advice from WA ScamNet at Consumer Protection or WA Police, who can outline practical steps to help.

WA ScamNet and WA Police have given the following advice to people who may be targeted:

* DO NOT SEND MONEY! If you do, the scammers will come back for more.

*Contact WA ScamNet through Consumer Protection at 1300 30 40 54 or Crimestoppers at 1800 333 000 to seek help.

* If the video or photos are uploaded/posted to sites such as Facebook or YouTube, please notify the administrators immediately by flagging them as inappropriate. They must be removed quickly.

* Pay attention to profile names; these should also be reported to the social media platform administrators.

* Block the scammers and remove them from your social media friends list. Do the same if they have your email address or cell phone number.

* Deactivate social media accounts for two weeks so the scammers think you have deleted your accounts.

* If you meet someone online, don’t let them take intimate photos or videos. Even if they are not a scammer, there are still risks.

* Parents should discuss cyber security with their children and ensure proper parental controls are in place.

Mr. Newcombe said attempts at blackmail involving intimate images of anyone under 16 should be reported to the Child Abuse Squad via Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.

More information about scams is available on the WA ScamNet website, where online scam reports can be submitted, and questions asked by email [email protected] or call 1300 30 40 54.

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