POLICE have issued a warning over 'sextortion' online scams where criminals persuade victims to perform compromising or sexual acts on video.

Dorset Police have warned residents to be cautious of strangers online and on social media.

'Sextortion' scams are when victims are made to perform sexual or compromising acts on video and are then blackmailed into paying money to prevent the videos from being sent to friends or family.

A spokesperson for Dorset Police said: "Criminals befriend victims online by using a fake identity and then persuade them to perform sexual or otherwise compromising acts in front of their webcam or in a video message.

"The video is recorded by the criminals who then threaten to share the images with the victims’ friends and family, blackmailing the victim to pay them money to prevent this from happening.  

"Be very careful about who you befriend online, especially if you’re considering sharing anything intimate with them.

"The attractive person in the video chat may have been coerced themselves.

"A profile photo may be of someone completely different.  

"It is best not to share intimate images or sexual acts online even with people you know.

"Once images are out on the web they are very difficult to get rid of.

"If it’s happened to you, don’t panic. Don’t pay up. The criminal may publish the compromising images anyway or they may come back to you for more money.

"End all communication with the blackmailers.  

"Contact the police. You can do that online at www.dorset.police.uk/.

"If you’re under 18 years old, speak to an adult you trust immediately or get in touch with CEOP (the police Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command) at https://www.ceop.police.uk/ceop-reporting.