Hundreds of men in Scotland are likely to become victims of “sextortion” as social media channels are used to steal money from them online, Police Scotland has warned.
The scam is aimed at men between the ages of 18 and 44 targeted by organised crime groups based overseas who try to extort money from them by luring them into performing explicit sexual acts on social media sites.
Police say the victim is then threatened that the footage will be posted online and sent to friends and family if they do not pay hundreds of pounds.
Figures show there have been four suicides across the UK as a result of the crime.
Deputy Chief Constable Johnny Gwynne said: “This is a serious crime which can have catastrophic consequences for some of the victims.
“It is vital that victims are reassured that police will treat the report as serious and confidential, and that they will be supported as it is likely that they will be experiencing heightened feelings of shame, self-blame, fear and anxiety.
“The sharing of indecent images is very concerning and increasingly indecent images, sent in the belief they would remain private, are being shared online.
“People need to understand they should only share pictures online that they are happy with their friends, family and others seeing.
“They also need to know how to keep their personal information private and to contact an adult if they feel threatened.”
Officers also urged young people affected to contact the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) where they can contact a child protection adviser.
Mr Gwynne added: “Where a child or young person under 18 has been the victim of online child sexual abuse including ‘sextortion’, avenues to report concerns include parents, carers, guidance teachers, police and social work.”