Newly released figures from the National Crime Agency (NCA) have revealed a sharp increase in the number of cases reported to the NCA’s Anti-Kidnap and Extortion Unit (AKEU).
In 2017, 1,304 cases of sextortion were reported to the AKEU by police forces across the UK. This is almost three times more than the number of cases reported in 2015.
Sextortion usually involves organised crime groups (OCGs), who use fake dating profiles to befriend victims and encourage them to live stream sex acts. Victims are often contacted through dating websites and believe they are in a genuine relationship. They are then persuaded to perform sex acts online which the OCGs record and threaten to share with the victim’s friends and family unless they are paid.
Evidence suggests that sextortion is predominately committed by overseas criminal gangs, targeting young males aged 17-25, with an increasing number of British Armed Forces personnel being sextorted. The latest figures also show men over 60 are also vulnerable to the blackmail.
“The upward trend in cases of sextortion and the devastating effect on victims are extremely worrying,” commented John Branney, from the AKEU. “Due to the nature of the crime we know there are a huge number of cases that go unreported and that the figures released today are just the tip of the iceberg.”
“The release of these figures aims to highlight sextortion as a growing crime and help potential victims by showing them how they can protect themselves and what to do if they are targeted,” he added. “We want victims to know that they are not alone and urge them to contact the police where they will be treated sensitively and in confidence.”
If you have been charged with a criminal offence, including blackmail and extortion related offences, then contact our specialist criminal defence lawyers today.
Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.