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Police issue sextortion advice following online blackmail incidents

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DON’T panic. Don’t communicate. Don’t pay.

That’s the advice given to victims of online blackmail after Bitcoin payments spark sextortion fears.

Victims are faced with demands to pay, or the threat that intimate photos and videos will be shared.

Dyfed-Powys Police has offered the guidance after receiving reports of suspicious transactions involving the digital currency Bitcoin.

Victims are usually contacted through email or social media, with demands to make payments in Bitcoin.

Recent sextortion reports have followed two patterns.

Detective Sergeant Rob Gravelle said: “In two cases we’ve had recently, the victims have accepted a social media friend request from an unknown person, and started to chat with them.

“The offender has then asked the victim to engage in a video chat, with intimate photos and videos being shared. Following the conversation, a list of demands has been sent to the victim, with threats that if they do not pay, the videos will be sent to family and friends, or posted online.

“One victim reported that the blackmail fee was £1,500, which thankfully they did not pay.

“In two other cases that have been reported over the past month, the victim has been watching pornography online, and received an email containing threats shortly after.

“The offender claimed to have hacked their device and set up a dual screen system where they could record what the victim was watching, as well as what they were doing. The victims were told that the hacker had videos of them, which again would be shared with family and friends.”

Following these recent reports, Dyfed-Powys Police has offered advice to anyone who receives similar threats online.

  • Don’t panic. Stay calm and report it to police immediately. Your case will be taken seriously, it will be dealt with in confidence, and no judgements will be made on your behaviour.
  • Do not pay. In some cases where victims have paid in the hope that the threats will go away, they have continued to receive demands. If you have already paid, check if the money has been collected. If it has, and you are able to, make a note of where it was collected. If it hasn’t then you can cancel the payment – and the quicker the better.
  • Do not communicate with the offender. Take screenshots of any conversations, deactivate the social media account they contacted you on and use online reporting processes to report the matter to the social media platform. Deactivating the account, rather than shutting it down, will ensure data is preserved and will assist police in obtaining evidence.

DS Gravelle continued: “The most important aspect in investigations of this kind is the safeguarding and support we offer to victims. People in this position feel embarrassed and vulnerable, and we need to ensure they are offered support, or know where to go to receive it.

“We urge all victims to report incidents to police – you are not alone, and by taking that step you could help prevent other people from becoming victims.”

To report blackmail or sextortion to Dyfed-Powys Police call 101. If you are at immediate threat of harm, always call 999.

To keep your online accounts as safe as possible, never use the same password for multiple accounts and make sure you change passwords regularly. Visit www.getsafeonline.org for more online security advice.

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Cold temperatures likely to lead to icy conditions

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A YELLOW weather warning is in place over Wales from 10pm tonight (Jan 16) and 11am tomorrow morning (Jan 17).

As temperatures drop, there is a strong chance of ice patches causing dangerous conditions for motorists.

Icy patches developing with wintry showers also affecting some areas.

What to expect

  • Some injuries from slips and falls on icy surfaces
  • Probably some ice on some untreated roads, pavements and cycle paths
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Police target burglary suspects in dawn raids

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SIXTEEN addresses have been raided by police in an operation responding to a spate of high-value burglaries in the south Wales area.

Officers targeted locations in Fforest-Fach, Clase, Morrison, Brynhyfryd and Bonymaen following a year of thefts in the city and Neath Port Talbot.

Operation Timmia also saw locations in Swansea citry centre targeted by South Wales Police.

Six people have been arrested and remain in custody, The Llanelli Herald has been told.

The large scale operation used the police helicopter, forensics teams, financial investigators and cash-detecting dogs.

Police seized three caravans, a cannabis cultivation, large amounts of cash and jewellery, and a number of other items believed to be linked to crimes.

Detectives said those arrested are being held on suspicion of several offences, including conspiracy to commit burglary.

They have also issued an appeal to trace a further four suspects: Daniel Casey, 27; Terrence Casey, 19; Michael Casey, 18; and Patrick Joyce, 20.

All four men have links with the travelling community and are known to travel throughout the UK, said police.

“We know the recent spates of burglaries and car thefts across the division has been of real concern in our local communities and I hope the scale of this morning’s enforcement action reassures the public that we do take the matter seriously and that we are fully committed to bringing those responsible to justice,” said Det Insp Dave Peart.

“We now have a number of individuals in custody and enquiries are ongoing to locate a number of outstanding suspects.”

As part of the raids, officers searched an industrial unit in the Fforestfach area of the city, and nine caravans on Millstream Way traveller site.

The force said the investigation follow what has been described as a “high number of burglaries and aggravated burglaries in the past year”.

In some instances, homeowners were confronted by armed gangs who either threatened or inflicted violence.

Supt Cath Larkman added: “During some of the recent burglaries we’ve seen an increasing use of, or willingness to use, violence, so today’s action was absolutely proportionate and necessary to protect the public from further criminality and potential harm.”

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Band leader sexually assaulted 14-year-old cadet

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THE LEADER of an Army cadet band turned a kitchen into a sauna and sexually assaulted a naked teenage boy.

And Philip Pryor, now 65, used a British Legion computer to download child pornography.

Pryor, of Llys y Llyfgell, Burry Port, has been jailed for two and a half years.

Swansea Crown Court heard how Pryor had been the leader of an Army cadet band in Burry Port, which attracted members from across west Wales, as well as being a branch secretary for the British Legion.

Robin Rouch, prosecuting, said the Army had a hut in Burry Port which the band used for rehearsals and some cadets slept there, as did Pryor, before a concert.

A man who was a 14-year-old cadet at the time told police how Pryor would boil pans of water and place towels around doors and windows and turn the kitchen into a sauna.

Boys were encouraged to take off their clothes, as did Pryor.

On at least three occasions he touched the boy indecently, said Mr Rouch.

The victim did not complain until many years later after he had seen a television news item about young footballers being abused and confided in a friend about what had happened to him.

He later told police that at the time Pryor, who had played in a military band while serving in the Army, had told him that because of his standing in the community there was no point in complaining as no-one would believe him.

Mr Rouch said a police investigation began and officers removed a British Legion computer used by Pryor and found he had downloaded a small number of indecent images of schoolboys.

Pryor admitted three offences of indecent assault and one of possessing child pornography.

His barrister, Frank Phillips, said Pryor was now remorseful and ashamed and had lived as a recluse since his arrest.

Judge Geraint Walters told Pryor he had been in a position of trust.

“You targeted him and abused him more than once.

“The fact that he went to the police so many years later demonstrates the long lasting effect of what you did to him. It has never left him.

“It shows the wickedness of an adult taking advantage of a youngster.

“There was some grooming here in that you allowed him to have alcohol and cigarette.

“I accept you have led a blameless life since the offending but it is not possible for me to pass a sentence that could be suspended,” he added.

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