Home > All, Security Issues > Having sex online can seriously damage your economic health

Having sex online can seriously damage your economic health

Get Safe Online is warning young males about the webcam scam sex blackmail. It seems to be targeting youngsters in Avon and Somerset because when I asked about other cases I was told, “The City of London police haven’t been able to provide any further stats, as this is a relatively new type of fraud.”

Strange, because it certainly isn’t new and is unlikely to be limited to Avon and Somerset.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary has dealt with several cases where, following connecting via social networking sites, victims (usually young males) are lured into taking off their clothes in front of their webcam – and sometimes performing sexual acts – which is videoed by the fraudster. The victims are then threatened with blackmail to avoid the video being published online and shared with their contacts. Investigations have revealed that most of these cases stem from abroad, making them difficult to trace.

That’s the scam in a nutshell. But it’s certainly not new – and you can get a more complete description from a report in the BBC from September 2012.

She said she was French, living in Lyon, but was on holiday in Ivory Coast. We then chatted for a bit on MSN and I could see a video of her. She was a very beautiful French-looking girl, very pretty.

She was dressed to begin with and asked whether I would be interested in going further. I asked what that meant and she said she wanted to see my body… everything.
Blackmail fraudsters target webcam daters

This particular case seems to have been in France, but adds another potentially more worrying aspect. The subsequent video was published with a caption saying the victim performed a sex act in front of a young girl – and that unless he pays €500 to take it down, the world would soon know he is a paedophile.

“At the moment we are persuaded that there are several blackmail attempts committed every day,” says Vincent Lemoine, a specialist in cybercrime in the Gendarmerie’s criminal investigations unit.

So it’s not new and already widespread. Perhaps it’s just newly migrated to the UK because, let’s face it, we Brits have a reputation for not even shaking hands without a formal introduction. But it is a problem and it’s very likely to be an increasing problem. I just wish that Get Safe Online would get real with the young of today. Its language simply doesn’t resonate.

“It’s terrible that fraudsters are targeting innocent people in such a personal way,” said Tony Neate, Chief Executive of Get Safe Online. The language is so British and understated. Terrible? Devastating and possibly life threatening (“His blackmailers were relentless and he could see no end to his ordeal. A week after the first demand, he killed himself.” BBC report) might be more accurate.

I also have some concerns over whether Get Safe Online actually understands young culture. The purpose of the warning is admirable – but the advice given somewhat misses the mark. “Be wary about who you invite or accept invitations from on social networking sites. Don’t accept friendship requests from complete strangers. You wouldn’t do this in real life!”

That’s the problem. That’s exactly what people actually do in real life. We dress up, go out on the town, hook up with a complete stranger and have sex. It’s called a one-night-stand and it’s what weekends were invented for. And all friends were strangers before they became friends, so saying don’t make friends with strangers is a bit silly.

So I would say to Get Safe Online, if you want to seriously warn the youngsters of today, Get Safe should first get real.

If you want more advice on the threat from Get Safe, there’s an outline on their site:

Get Safe warning

I think the illustration is meant to show a worried young man who is being blackmailed – but it could just be someone giving head to a stranger he just met on Facebook.

Categories: All, Security Issues
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