This is how criminals posing as ‘young and attractive’ women online are targeting hundreds of young men across Nottinghamshire

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Callous criminals usually disguising themselves as ‘young and attractive’ women online have exploited more than 1,000 young people across Nottinghamshire.

Nottinghamshire Police have launched a hard-hitting campaign to educate and prevent children and young people from falling victim to this ‘nasty and manipulative’ crime.

Shocking figures reveal the number of ‘Sextortion’ reports across Nottinghamshire have increased more than six-fold over the last few years – from 80 reports in 2019 to a staggering 547 in 2023.

More than 100 reports have already been made this year.

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A poster shared by Nottinghamshire Police.A poster shared by Nottinghamshire Police.
A poster shared by Nottinghamshire Police.

Criminals will often follow a young person’s social media accounts or send them friend requests’ pretending to be a ‘young and attractive’ woman.

They will usually try and identify with the victim through private messages, such as mentioning they are studying at a particular university and school.

The conversation can last for days before it takes a dark turn.

Criminals will gain their trust and attempt to progress things to the next level, often sending intimate pictures of the person they think they are talking to, encouraging them to do the same.

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However, once they have an intimate picture or video of the victim, they will immediately use this material against them.

A typical message will say: “Stay calm, don’t panic, I have recorded that video / saved that picture of you and I will ruin your life if you don’t follow my instructions.”

They will then send a screen grab of all the victim’s social media contacts and threaten to send it to all of them unless they are paid.

They will even attempt to call the victim to heighten the threat. On most occasions, the voice is that of a male and not a female.

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Some of the criminals have even sent the victim details of their schools and universities social media accounts and threatened to post it on these channels as well.

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Sums of up to £5,000 have been demanded.

Some victims have paid up to £1,000 with one university student left without any money to pay his rent.

In some cases, the criminal has followed up with the threat and sent the naked pictures and videos out.

In one case, an image was sent to the teenage victim’s mum who called the police.

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Other victims have found out after friends have contacted them.

Most victims are male, predominately between 14 to early 20s, who have been left feeling ‘mortified’ ‘anxious’ ‘socially withdrawn’ and even ‘suicidal’ as a result.

Nottinghamshire Police have a team of detectives who investigate every report of Sextortion and offer support to each victim.

Most of the time, the IP address will be based overseas, which makes it incredibly difficult to prosecute the criminals.

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Schools’ officers will now be delivering Sextortion presentations to children across the city and county, warning them of the dangers and on how to stay safe online.

Posters with the QR code to the video will be distributed across venues across the city centre.

Call 101 or contact Nottinghamshire Police through their online portal at onlinecrime.notts.police.uk