Renfrewshire mum's "fear" after teenage son is targeted in sextortion scam

sad man checking mobile phone sitting on the floor in the living room at home with a dark background
Police say sextortion cases are rocketing across the UK -Credit:shared content unit

A Renfrewshire mum has told of her “fear” after her son was targeted in a sextortion scam as she warns other young people to be wary of speaking to strangers online.

Her son was just a teenager when criminals lured him into sending intimate pictures of himself under the pretence of being a love interest.

But the fraudsters soon turned nasty and threatened to spread the pictures online if he didn’t send them money.

The youngster was brave enough to seek help from the police but is still reeling from the impact.

His devastated mum has spoken about his experiences in a bid to warn local teenagers to be highly vigilant of people who are grooming them online.

“My son was scared that he’d put our family in danger and ruined his own life,” she said. “He thought he would be in trouble for going online at night and for pretending to be older.

“He knew these were things he shouldn’t do because I had spoken to him many times about the dangers of talking to strangers online.

“Both of us were in shock and we felt fear, shame, and guilt. He felt he’d done something very bad, and I felt I’d failed to protect him. But we are not to blame.”

She added: “The police were very helpful and they explained that online grooming of children and ‘sextortion’ is becoming increasingly common as organised crime groups use social media apps and websites to target kids and frighten them into sending money.”

The UK National Crime Agency recently issued a warning that there is an increased risk of online sextortion – when someone is blackmailed that intimate and indecent photos of them will be shared publicly unless they pay money.

Criminals use friendship apps and dating apps popular with young people to talk to them, get intimate photos and then switch from being nice to nasty and demand they pay money.

Renfrewshire and Inverclyde Police Division is working with parents and schools in an effort to encourage young people never to share intimate photos online. Those who are blackmailed however are urged to report it to police as soon as possible.

Detective Superintendent Alan Paterson said: “Sextortion is blackmail and those targeted should not pay, nor should they be embarrassed or scared to report it to police.

“We are experiencing an increase in the number of sextortion incidents being reported and although we are encouraged that victims appear more confident in coming forward, we know from our partners that it is still likely to be an under-reported offence.

“Criminals use the internet, social media, dating apps, web cams or pornography sites and fake identities to befriend people online and then threaten to send images to their family andfriends.

“People shouldn’t panic. There is support available from policing and from third party organisations. We want people to know they will be treated with respect and dignity and the circumstances investigated professionally.

“There is information available on the Police Scotland website on ways you can stay safe online—such as not sharing intimate

Victims of sextortion or any other crime can report to police by calling the 111 number.

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