Police urge victims of sextortion and revenge porn not to suffer in silence

Alert message sent 21/08/2020 16:59:00

Information sent on behalf of Wiltshire Police


Many of us have gradually adapted to working, schooling and socialising more online during this pandemic. Unfortunately there are a minority who have sadly chosen to take advantage of us all spending more time on the internet and exploit some the vulnerable members of our communities.

One such way criminals are doing this is through sextortion. With cases on the rise it is important for people to know what help is available and what action can be taken if they find themselves a victim of this type crime.

People often use devices for online dating and personal communications. Sometimes this can involve using webcams and cameras to send intimate pictures or videos. It should always be considered that people online may not be who they say they are. Sextortion is where criminals will use legitimate dating or social media services to befriend people online using fake identities to persuade victims to send intimate pictures, videos or perform sexual acts. These are recorded or saved by the criminals who then threaten to share the content with friends and family, unless a payment is made. Both men and women can be victims of sextortion. 

Or, perhaps you’ve been in relationship which hasn’t worked out? Whether in a relationship or not, images or videos are sometimes sent willingly to another person an individual. These images should always be treated as private. Even if a relationship has not ended amicably these images should not be shared or shown to others, and not to be uploaded to the internet, even if things became a bit sour towards the end of the relationship.

It is always important to remember the moment a photo or video is shared with someone else, you lose control of it, even if you really trust that person. There is always a risk it can be shared further without your knowledge. Before sharing anything with another person these risks should always be considered. The sharing of private and/or sexual images without the consent of the owner is against the law if done with the intention of causing distress, embarrassment or upset.

This can be referred to as “revenge porn”.  Police receive reports of people sharing intimate images or videos of others on forums, web sites, through direct messages or social media, and even the physical sharing of printed images.

If you’re a victim of revenge porn or sextortion:
1.         Don’t panic.
2.         Don’t pay or send any further images.
3.         Don’t communicate further.
4.         Preserve evidence. Make a note of all details provided by the offenders, for example, any user names (such as a Skype name and Skype ID), URLs for social media; details of bank accounts, money transfers or cryptocurrency wallets you are asked to make payments to; any photos/videos that were sent.

Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson said: “I would urge people to think really carefully about sending any intimate images to another person. Loyalties change and relationships don't always last; once an image is out of your control, it can be widely shared. Mistakes can be made in the heat of the moment, but don’t be frightened to speak up and seek help if you’ve been a victim of this type of crime. Help is available." 

Detective Inspector Gemma Vinton commented: "Sharing private images of another person intending to cause them distress is a crime, and can cause significant concern and upset to victims. If you have been the victim of a revenge porn crime, please do report it on 101, where it will be dealt with sensitively. There’s also additional support out there for you, if you need it.”


Further support is also available from:
The Revenge Porn Helpline (https://revengepornhelpline.org.uk/) are a UK helpline supporting adults (those aged 18 or over) who are victims of intimate image abuse and who have had their intimate images and videos shared without their consent, or when someone is threatening to do this.

For anyone under 18, CEOP (https://www.ceop.police.uk/safety-centre/) is a law enforcement agency to keep children and young people safe from sexual exploitation and abuse.

Victim Support: https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/ 
Mind: https://www.mind.org.uk/
Samaritans: https://www.samaritans.org/
 
Message sent by
Katrina Fleet (Police, Senior Communications and Engagement Officer, Wiltshire)

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