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Police issue sextortion advice following online blackmail incidents

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DON’T panic. Don’t communicate. Don’t pay.

That’s the advice given to victims of online blackmail after Bitcoin payments spark sextortion fears.

Victims are faced with demands to pay, or the threat that intimate photos and videos will be shared.

Dyfed-Powys Police has offered the guidance after receiving reports of suspicious transactions involving the digital currency Bitcoin.

Victims are usually contacted through email or social media, with demands to make payments in Bitcoin.

Recent sextortion reports have followed two patterns.

Detective Sergeant Rob Gravelle said: “In two cases we’ve had recently, the victims have accepted a social media friend request from an unknown person, and started to chat with them.

“The offender has then asked the victim to engage in a video chat, with intimate photos and videos being shared. Following the conversation, a list of demands has been sent to the victim, with threats that if they do not pay, the videos will be sent to family and friends, or posted online.

“One victim reported that the blackmail fee was £1,500, which thankfully they did not pay.

“In two other cases that have been reported over the past month, the victim has been watching pornography online, and received an email containing threats shortly after.

“The offender claimed to have hacked their device and set up a dual screen system where they could record what the victim was watching, as well as what they were doing. The victims were told that the hacker had videos of them, which again would be shared with family and friends.”

Following these recent reports, Dyfed-Powys Police has offered advice to anyone who receives similar threats online.

  • Don’t panic. Stay calm and report it to police immediately. Your case will be taken seriously, it will be dealt with in confidence, and no judgements will be made on your behaviour.
  • Do not pay. In some cases where victims have paid in the hope that the threats will go away, they have continued to receive demands. If you have already paid, check if the money has been collected. If it has, and you are able to, make a note of where it was collected. If it hasn’t then you can cancel the payment – and the quicker the better.
  • Do not communicate with the offender. Take screenshots of any conversations, deactivate the social media account they contacted you on and use online reporting processes to report the matter to the social media platform. Deactivating the account, rather than shutting it down, will ensure data is preserved and will assist police in obtaining evidence.

DS Gravelle continued: “The most important aspect in investigations of this kind is the safeguarding and support we offer to victims. People in this position feel embarrassed and vulnerable, and we need to ensure they are offered support, or know where to go to receive it.

“We urge all victims to report incidents to police – you are not alone, and by taking that step you could help prevent other people from becoming victims.”

To report blackmail or sextortion to Dyfed-Powys Police call 101. If you are at immediate threat of harm, always call 999.

To keep your online accounts as safe as possible, never use the same password for multiple accounts and make sure you change passwords regularly. Visit www.getsafeonline.org for more online security advice.

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Cold temperatures likely to lead to icy conditions

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A YELLOW weather warning is in place over Wales from 10pm tonight (Jan 16) and 11am tomorrow morning (Jan 17).

As temperatures drop, there is a strong chance of ice patches causing dangerous conditions for motorists.

Icy patches developing with wintry showers also affecting some areas.

What to expect

  • Some injuries from slips and falls on icy surfaces
  • Probably some ice on some untreated roads, pavements and cycle paths
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Next stage of works to clear Cwmduad landslide

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PHASE two of the works to stabilise a landslide in Cwmduad has begun following the recovery of a lorry from the river below.

Carmarthenshire County Council is leading the operation to clear the site and re-open the A484 for traffic travelling between Carmarthen and Newcastle Emlyn, following the landslide in October.

Phase one, which commenced before Christmas, created a safe zone for the recovery of a lorry that was swept in to the river during the storm.

That recovery took place earlier today (Monday, January 14, 2019).

Phase two, to permanently stabilise the embankment, involves complex drainage and geotechnical works.

The highway structure will then be assessed before any indication can be given as to when the road will re-open.

The council has thanked the community, and affected commuters, for their patience whilst site assessments and works have been underway.

Ruth Mullen, Director of Environment for Carmarthenshire County Council, said: “We are now making progress in what has been a highly complex operation and legal process between the council, partner agencies and the landowner.

“We fully appreciate the impact this has had on the community, and we wish to reiterate that we have worked without delay to undertake site investigations in the immediate aftermath of the landslide, along with clearance and construction works to make the area safe.

“We are working as quickly as we can to re-open the road as soon as possible, and would like to thank those affected most sincerely for their patience.”

Until the road is re-opened, traffic will continue to be diverted along the B4333 Carmarthen – Newcastle Emlyn.

Additional bus services remain in place:

  • A shuttle service currently runs from Cwmduad to Tycoch to catch the 460 service at 7.25am, 9.35am and 10.55am. Return journeys are at 2.25pm and 4.45pm.
  • The 460 service is currently operating on a diversion route
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Three seriously injured in A40 crash

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE is appealing for information about a collision which resulted in serious injuries.

The collision which happened on Sunday afternoon (Jan 13) involved a silver Ford Fiesta and a Silver BMW 120 and at approximately 4pm on the A40 between Pont-y-fenny and Whitland roundabout.

The Silver Fiesta was travelling towards Whitland and the BMW was travelling towards Carmarthen.

A 67-year-old woman has been taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries.

A 71-year-old man and a 68-year-old woman were also taken to hospital suffering serious injuries.

Anyone who witnessed the collision, or was driving along the road around the time or with dash cam footage, is asked to contact the Serious Collision Investigation Unit by calling 101.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, please text 07811311908. Please quote reference DP-20190113-199.

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