YOUNG men in Dorset are being blackmailed in a new scam where fraudsters threaten to send explicit videos to friends and family.
A Beaminster man and another from Weymouth have fallen victim to the scam in the past week – and there could be countless more victims who have not reported incidents.
Beat manager at Beaminster Police Station Tim Poole is warning internet users to beware and use sensible precautions online.
He said: “It seems 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 to perform certain explicit acts.”
He added: “What they don’t know is this is being recorded.
“The fraudsters then send a message threatening to email the video to the victim’s friends and family and tell the victim they have hacked into their emails and got 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 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 find 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 and family 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 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.”
For detailed information about how to protect yourself or to deal with the threat of being blackmailed, go online to safe.met.police.uk/internet _safety/get_the_facts.html.