Locals targeted by cyber blackmailers

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Police are warning internet users to be wary after reports of a number of local people being targeted by online blackmailers.

A post on the PSNI Lisburn Facebook page revealed that officers have recently been involved in investigating reports of cyber blackmail - the act of threatening to share information about a person to the public, their friends or family, unless a demand is met or money is paid - within the Lisburn and Castlereagh district.

Warning that all the criminals want is money and that they are “prepared to do anything to get it”, a PSNI Lisburn spokesperson appealed to local people to be cautious when using the internet and social media sites.

“We have recently been involved in investigating reports of cyber blackmail within the Lisburn and Castlereagh district,” they said.

“This normally involves someone you don’t know sending a friend request to you and if you accept this request the criminal will be able to see your profile and get a list of your friends and contacts. They then begin to message you and may ask you to go onto another site such as Skype. They continue to talk to you and ask you to do something such as send a photograph or be involved in a live chat.

“Chances are you will then get a message demanding money. The culprits may then threaten that if you don’t pay your photo or video will be posted online for the world to see. They can ask for anything from about £200 to thousands of pounds/euros to ensure the footage isn’t released on social media platforms.”

Stressing that such crimes are “generally under reported”, the PSNI spokesperson appealed to victims of cyber blackmail to come forward and speak to police by contacting officers on 101.