A number of Horsham men and a teenager have fallen prey to online sextortion scams, but police warn the figure is likely to be higher.
- Sextortion is when someone threatens to post intimate photos or videos unless the victim pays a specified amount
- Horsham Police say nine male victims came forward between January and August
- They fear that the actual number of victims is even higher
Police said they were contacted by nine men aged between 14 and 30 after they were targeted by cybercriminals, between January and August this year.
Horsham Police Officer Leigh Creasy suggested the actual number of victims was much higher.
“There’s a lot of embarrassment around it because people wouldn’t come and report it to us,” said Staff Sergeant Creasy.
He said the issue, which involved people being coerced into sending intimate photos and blackmailing them for money to prevent their photos from being published, had been going on for some time.
He said men had been contacted on social media by someone claiming to be a woman and sent nude photos.
“In return [the men] will be asked to send in nude photos of themselves,” Sgt. Creasy said.
He said the scammers would also ask for a “face shot” in order to get a full picture of the victim.
Paying is not a guarantee
“Once they get that picture, they’ll light up [the men] immediately and threaten to report them if they don’t pay the money,” said Staff Sergeant Creasy.
He said some victims had paid off the scammers, but that was no guarantee the threats would stop.
“What happens is you pay, and they’ll ask you again, and again, and again, and they’ll keep going until you can’t pay anymore, and then they’ll still post their pictures.”
He said the scammers would review the victim’s Facebook friends and identify friends and family to whom they could post photos.
“Unfortunately, if you did, you’re just going to accept the fact that you’re going to be exposed,” he said.
In a statement, Victoria Police said they had received more than 100 reports from families where cybercriminals coerced children, mostly teenagers, into sending them explicit images before extorting money from them.