THAT’s the advice given to victims of online blackmail who are faced with demands to transfer cash with the threat that intimate photos and videos will be shared.
Dyfed-Powys Police has offered the guidance after receiving reports of online blackmail over the past month. Officers are concerned that with people being advised to stay at home, blackmailers might have more opportunity to target victims.
People are being contacted through email or social media, with demands to make payments to people in places including the Ivory Coast, the Philippines, or Ukraine.
DC Gareth Jordan said: “These types of blackmail normally fall into two categories and are called Sextortion –
- Phishing style scams claim to have access to your webcam, using data obtained from a breached database of a well-known company. The phish is to get more info from the person, plus money.
- The other form of incident is where “Victims are chatting online using a webcam during a sexualised video chat and their sexual activity is recorded. The victim is then blackmailed into paying money to ensure the video is not released.”
For this type of sextortion, any web enabled chat facility can be used. Dyfed-Powys Police have had reports from victims using Facebook, Instagram, Skype, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Chat Roulette and Antiland, although there are many other apps capable of allowing it to be carried out.
Blackmailers often claim 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. Victims are told the hacker has videos of them, which again would be shared with family and friends.
Dyfed-Powys Police offers this 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.
Don’t 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.
Don’t 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.
DC Jordan said: “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.
Search for Susan Smith continues
THE search for missing Susan Smith is now in it’s third day. She was last seen on Saturday (Feb 27), walking in the Kidwelly area.
Speaking to The Herald, a police spokesperson said: “We are continuing to search for Susan Smith who has been reported missing.”
“The search is continuing today with specialist police officers making house to house enquiries in the Kidwelly, St Ishamels, Ferryside and surrounding areas.
Sergeant Fiona Phillips said: “It is important that we build a picture of Susan’s movements after she was last seen on Saturday and I would appeal to anyone who believes they may have seen her to contact police.”
Susan was last seen 1.30pm Saturday, February 27 2021, walking in the Carmarthen Bay Holiday Village, Kidwelly area. She is known to walk along the beach to St Ishmaels and Ferryside.
She is described as approximately 5ft2 inches tall, petite with shoulder length blonde hair and believed to be wearing black jeans, a black fleece type jacket and navy and grey walking boots.
Any who has seen Susan or anyone who may have information that could help the search is asked to contact Dyfed-Powys Police, quoting reference 285 of Saturday 27th February.
Police can be contacted either online at bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing email@example.com, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908
Isla to read 20 books in 20 days for lifesaving charity
A Bancyfelin bookworm has so-far raised over £300 for the Wales Air Ambulance in her first-ever fundraiser for charity.
Six-year-old Isla Wilson is taking part in the Charity’s My20 challenge and has chosen to read 20 books in 20 days during March.
The Wales Air Ambulance celebrates its 20th anniversary on March 1 and to acknowledge the milestone, the Charity has created a new fundraising event called My20. My20 allows the participant to set themselves a challenge, task or activity that relates to the number ’20’ which they will complete during March.
The Ysgol Bancyfelin pupil loves reading books to her younger sister, Ailish, 4 and has chosen a range of books to read in Welsh and English.
Some of the books that Isla has chosen to read include – The Elves and the Shoemaker, Peter Rabbit, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, Chicken Lickin’ and Rapunzel.
Isla set herself the target of raising £50 and has already smashed that figure by raising £330 for the lifesaving Charity – even before her fundraiser has started.
Isla has received a lot of support from her friends, family and her school. The little bookworm has also been reading books virtually to family and friends in preparation.
Speaking about why she is raising money for the charity’s 24/7 service, Isla said: “I want to help keep the air ambulance awake all night. They help lots of people.”
Her dad, Tom Wilson, said: “We’re proud of Isla for wanting to raise money for the air ambulance. Isla and her sister have always enjoyed seeing the air ambulance in the air, but it wasn’t until recently that she understood the significance of the work the medics do. We’re are shocked she has raised over £300 already, especially as it’s her first fundraiser. We’re looking forward to listening to her reading throughout the challenge.”
Katie Macro, the Charity’s South West Wales Community Fundraiser, said: “It’s wonderful how Isla, at such a young age, understands the important work of the Wales Air Ambulance. It’s clear that she wants to take part in My20 because it helps those in need, showing her compassion and thought for others. We hope that people recognise this and donate to her fundraiser, which many already have.
“Thank you so much for supporting us, Isla. Every penny you raise will help people who need us. That makes you a lifesaver.”
You can show your support to Isla by sponsoring her via her Just Giving page – Isla’s Fy20 / My20 www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lisa-lewis51
For more information on the #MY20 challenge visit www.walesairambulance.com.
Blocked rail plans a ‘kick in the teeth’
POLITICIANS in Llanelli have vocalised their frustrations as plans for extra train services between west Wales and London have been ditched.
Grand Union Trains had been working on plans to run as many as seven daily returning rail services between Cardiff Central and Paddington from December 2021 and had been hoping to extend those services to both Llanelli and Carmarthen.
Those plans though, it seems, won’t be progressing any further as the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) have rejected the application. These rail plans have been rejected because of ORR concerns that it could have cost the UK Department of Transport millions of pounds.
An ORR spokesperson said: “After careful consideration we have decided not to approve Grand Union Trains’ application.
“At this time, and taking account of the pandemic’s impact on railway finances, we consider the passenger benefits would not outweigh the significant negative impact on public funds that this might have.”
Llanelli MS Lee Waters, Deputy Transport Minister in the Welsh Government, described the decision as “a real scandal”.
Lee Waters said “A plan to get a direct rail service from places like Llanelli to London has been blocked because it’s feared the DfT may get a bill if it doesn’t go to plan.”
MP for Llanelli, Nia Griffith said: “This is a real kick in the teeth.
“We in west Wales deserve to have as good connectivity as other parts of the country.
“We need more direct trains because it is the long-time gap between trains and poor connections with on-going services that really puts people off using trains now.
“More frequent services and more direct trains would attract more passengers.”
Grand Union Trains will fight the decision, which they have said could jeopardise 135 new jobs, and described it as ‘poorly forecasted’. They are currently seeking legal advice.
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