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‘Sextortion’ warning after children were targeted

Police are warning of a rise in ‘sextortion’ cases involving Kiwi children being targeted by adults abroad threatening to post their X-rated photos online if they don’t pay a ransom.

In a recent case, a teenager was unable to raise the money his international blackmailer demanded and had compromising images publicly shared on the internet.

“This is a global problem where offshore offenders target young victims by tricking them into sending sexually explicit content before threatening them to share the content with friends and family unless they pay,” said Senior Detective Sergeant Jodie Lyons.

“As we started to see this in New Zealand in late 2021, cases of young local victims continue to rise.

“In a very recent incident, a New Zealand teenager was unable to pay the money he was being blackmailed into and the footage was shared publicly by the offender.

Lyons said the offense usually begins with a direct message to the child victim on social media.

The child was then asked to continue chatting on another app, and the conversation often became very sexualized.

From there, the youngster was coerced into sharing intimate photos and videos of themselves, which were used to blackmail them, with threats to share them on their social media contact list unless that they don’t pay.

In some cases, the photos have been doctored by the offender to make the child appear to be in even more compromising positions.

Police said the adult offenders also recorded nude or sexual images of the youngster during live streams or video calls, which was often part of extortion in a practice called capping.

“We are highlighting this serious issue to ensure that young New Zealanders, their parents and carers are aware of the risks and remain vigilant that this does not happen to them,” Lyons said.

“However, if this is the case, the best protection a victim has is to come forward and seek expert police assistance as soon as possible.

“We will not criticize or blame you – what happened is not your fault and we are here to help.”

SEXUAL DAMAGES

Where to get help:

If it is an emergency and you think you or someone else is in danger, call 111.

If you have ever been the victim of sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone, contact Talking Safely confidentially, anytime, 24/7:

• Call 0800 044 334

• Text 4334

• Email [email protected]

• For more information or to chat online, visit safetotalk.nz

• Text “Netsafe” to 4282

• Email: [email protected]

Otherwise, contact your local police station – click here for a list.

If you’ve been sexually assaulted, remember that it’s not your fault.