Northumbria Police is warning internet users to be on their guard against sextortion, after several reports of incidents in Northumberland.
This follows a number of incidents reported to police where a victim has been lured by another person online into undressing and sometimes performing intimate acts in front of a webcam.
The recipient then threatens to blackmail the victim saying they will distribute the footage on social media sites and share with the victim’s family and friends unless a substantial amount of money is paid.
This is a problem occurring across the country but there have been similar reports in Northumberland. Officers want to remind people to be on their guard to prevent other people falling victim.
Detective Inspector Dave Harris said: “Although these offences are not common here in Northumberland or North Tyneside, when they do occur they cause real distress and embarrassment to victims.
“We know that men and women can fall victim of this offence so don’t get lured into a compromising situation online.
“Once something is online it can stay online, even though you may delete it others may have copied and shared it across the internet, even if you think it is just between you and the recipient this is not always the case.
“Be wary of who you speak to in chat rooms, even if you think you know them if you can’t see the person at the other end they may not be who you think they are.
“Most importantly don’t get lured into compromising situations with complete strangers where you could potentially put yourself at risk of being exploited and blackmailed, you don’t know them and cannot trust them.
“These sorts of offences can have a huge impact on victims and we want to reassure people that officers will carry out inquiries with the absolute sensitivity and we would urge anyone who has been a victim to come forward and speak to us.”
People can contact police on 101 or via the Northumbria Police website, where more information on staying safe online can be found.