Teen extortion cases are on the rise in Australia as young people are increasingly being conned into sending sexually explicit photos and videos of themselves and then being blackmailed.
In what is known as ‘sextortion’, cybercriminals pretending to be young people on social media platforms dupe teens into sharing sensitive content.
Consumer Protection and WA Police are sending an alert after an increase in reports of young people and teenagers being targeted in this kind of activity.
The alarms are being raised as last month SA Police issued a warning saying that teenagers as young as 16 were being targeted through random friend requests on social media.
If the target sends sensitive photos and videos, they are threatened that these will be posted to social media and shared with the people in their life unless money is paid.
So far this year, 15 sextortion cases have been reported to Consumer Protection WA, with six victims losing a total of $2000.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Gary Newcombe said, apart from the financial losses, victims undergo great emotional distress.
“The threat to have intimate images exposed publicly has a devastating impact on all of those targeted, even those who don’t pay, but younger people are particularly vulnerable,” Newcombe said.
Police investigations suggest most of the criminals are based abroad.
Detective Senior Sergeant Dave Palmer said that the majority of the victims who receive friend requests on social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram are males.
“It’s important that parents continue to discuss cyber safety with their children and ensure proper parental controls are in place.
“If people are contacted online by unknown or unwanted users, they are encouraged to report the account username to the respective social media platforms and block the user.”
Those who might have fallen victim to such a scam are encouraged to:
- Never send money. The scammers will come back demanding more money.
- Do not share intimate images and videos online with anyone.
- Report the criminal activity to authorities via cyber.gov.au and eSafety Commissioner and Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
- Talk to a trustworthy adult for support.
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