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.
Police report finds no ‘major shortcomings’ in use of force
DYFED-POWYS POLICE and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn, has conducted a review of police officers’ use of force, and is assured that there are no major shortcomings.
The full report on the review of the use of force will be shared with local Police and Crime Panel members at their public meeting today (Nov 16).
This scrutiny review signifies a new, enhanced approach to the Commissioner’s continued commitment to holding the Force to account, for the delivery of an efficient and effective police service for the residents of Dyfed-Powys.
Sparked by national requirements to improve transparency around officers’ conduct, recent controversy around the introduction of spit and bite guards, and feedback from the inspectorate, the review involved consultation with the public, officers and staff, independent scrutiny of incident footage and a detailed review of available data.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn said: “I have been encouraged by the Force’s response to my office undertaking this work, and thank all those who contributed honestly and thoroughly to the review. I would also like to thank the members of the public who were willing to share their views with us, through my online survey and in person at the various events my team and I have attended over the summer months.”
Whilst the review found no significant concern to suggest that force is being used inappropriately by officers, it was identified that under-recording and limitations in the current systems require some improvement.
A series of recommendations have been accepted by the Chief Constable, Mark Collins, who has detailed the Force’s planned course of action in a formal response to the Commissioner.
The Commissioner’s office will use this action plan to review the Force’s progress over the coming months.
Superintendent Craig Templeton, Head of Operations, said: “We welcome this scrutiny by the Police and Crime Commissioner and accept there are improvements to be made. Work has already started to address the recommendations, including changes to the Use of Force recording system and introducing Body Worn Video, to make scrutiny easier. We are confident force is used legitimately in Dyfed-Powys Police and will continue working towards achieving accurate recording.”
The Commissioner is committed to continuing this approach and will be looking for the public to get involved in future engagements and consultations, details of which will be available on the Commissioner’s website, or through contact with the office.
Tributes paid to woman following Lampeter death
TRIBUTES have been paid to a woman who died after she was assaulted in a town centre on Thursday (Nov 8).
The woman was taken to hospital with serious injuries following the attack in the Bridge Street area of Lampeter, Ceredigion. The incident happened at approximately 6pm.
Dyfed-Powys Police have formally identified her 39-year-oldold Katarzyna Elzbieta Paszek.
Her family said in a tribute: “As a family we are distraught by our loss of Katarzyna who was 39 and from Lampeter area. She was a loving mother, daughter, sister and aunt and was loved by so many.
“We would now like time to grieve and would ask to be given privacy in which to do so.”
Two of the four men who were originally arrested in connection with the assault have been released with no further action.
A 40-year-old man remains in custody and a 27-year-old man has been released on bail.
Det Ch Insp Anthony Evans said: “This is now a murder enquiry and I am appealing to anyone with information that could help the investigation, no matter how insignificant you may feel it is, please get in touch.
“I would like to reassure the public that we are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.”
H.M Coroner has been informed, the police have confirmed.
Four men from the Lampeter area were arrested in connection with the incident.
A 40-year-old man remains in police custody. A 27-year-old man has been released on police bail.
A 31-year-old man has been released with no further action, and a 37-year-old man has been released with no further action.
The police said that anyone with information that can help officers with their investigation is asked to report it by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.
Three teenagers accused of ‘trashing’ caravan park
THREE teenagers appeared at Swansea Crown Court this week accused of ‘trashing’ a caravan complex in Llandeilo.
Maximilliam Langford, aged 19, Daniel Sieuw, 18, and James Wright, 19, were before Judge Keith Thomas for a plea and trial preparation hearing.
Paul Hobson, prosecuting, said it was his case that the three had been involved in a joint enterprise to wreck caravans and other buildings, some of them used as dwellings.
Langford, of Heol y Garreg Las, Llandeilo, admitted burgling a log cabin and four caravans at Taylors Wood, Gwynfe Road, on May 2 last year.
He also admitted damaging a 4×4 vehicle belonging to Roy Taylor and a ‘military style vehicle’, also belonging to Mr Taylor.
Langford denied setting fire to a caravan owned by Lawrence Good and a caravan owned by Barry John Smith.
Wright, of Rhydfro, Llangadog, denied the burglaries and the charges of criminal damage but admitted the two charges of arson.
Sieuw, of Bryngwyn, Llandeilo, denied all nine charges.
Mr Hobson said the prosecution would proceed against the defendants on all the outstanding charges.
Judge Thomas laid down January 29 as the start date of a three-day trial.
All three were granted bail meanwhile.
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