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Gardai warn students over ‘sextortion’ scams and share key thing to avoid when targeted by fraudsters


Scams of all kinds have been targeting the public for as long as technology has allowed and they have increased tenfold since the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

From phone calls to texts and emails, there are endless mediums for fraudsters to contact you.

Over recent years there have been reports of people being tricked into handing over personal information which has resulted in some losing thousands.

READ MORE: Gardai warn of fraud ring operating in Ireland using text scam to steal thousands from bank accounts

On the back of internet safety week, gardai are warning parents and students to be aware of ‘sextortion’ scams that have been seen in the past and could reappear in light of the increase in fraudulent activity here.

Sextortion is when a scammer uses an intimate image of a person and threatens to post or share it with others online unless the person involved pays a ransom.

Sergeant Michael Walsh told Newstalk Breakfast: “A school has put something on their Facebook page, advising parents to be careful of it.

“By all accounts there have been no incidents of it in that particular school.

“I am not aware of too many of these cases but… it’s good to be aware of this kind of thing and what can happen.

“What we’re saying to people is just to be aware of the fact that something that goes on the internet is going to be there forever.

“So be careful about what young people post, but also be careful about any images that you share with somebody now”.

He said what is happening now is that with modern technology, scammers can download an image from your social media and edit it “to make it look something more than what it was.”

“What I’m hearing about this one it’s more where scammers, as such, are maybe getting into your social media page, taking down a photograph, and maybe editing that photograph to make it look something more than what it was,” he said.

“And sending that to you then saying, ‘We found this photograph of you, I’m going to share it unless you pay the ransom’.”

Sergeant Walsh warned that anyone who is approached in this manner regarding a photo or video should contact officers immediately.

“For anybody that might find themselves in this position, the first thing to do would be to contact An Garda Síochána.



Gardaí warn of 'sextortion' scams targeting secondary school students
Gardaí warn of ‘sextortion’ scams targeting secondary school students

“We have dedicated cybercrime units now who deal with a lot of this type of crime – so that should be your first port of call.”

He also said, “do not pay a ransom.”

He explained that if you pay the money once, you will continue to be harassed by these criminals who will look for more and more money.

“Stop engaging with these people, don’t text back, don’t communicate back to them – report to it the gardai,” he said.

“Document whatever has been sent to you, screenshot it wherever it might be.

“You’re probably familiar with Coco’s Law, which was enacted last year, and that has created specific offences for this type of crime.”

READ MORE: Ireland scams: Gardai join forces with Interpol to take down scam gang who have stolen €18million

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