Police are warning people in Calderdale about a chat room scam which led to a man being blackmailed over naked pictures.
A man in his 20s from Leeds was in an online chat room when he was targeted by an unknown female who claimed to be from California but said she was holidaying in the Philippines.
The female went on to ask the victim if he wanted to chat privately using Skype.
A short time after they began to message each other, the female asked if the victim’s webcam was working. The pair then began to engage in conversation of a sexual nature, with the female asking the victim if he wanted to see her naked but insisting the male got undressed first.
Moments later, the female uploaded a recording of the victim naked in front of his webcam. He was then told the recording would be uploaded to YouTube unless he paid 200 dollars into an online account based in the Philippines.
The unknown female then continued to threaten the victim by posting a list of his Facebook friends including his mother, sister, uncles and cousins, and saying the image would be sent to each one if he did not make an immediate payment.
Over the following two days the victim was repeatedly contacted and blackmailed by the female scammer leading to a total of £240 being sent to an online account.
There were further requests for more money which the victim refused and he contacted police. No images of the victim have been posted on any social networking accounts.
Detective Sergeant Michael Casey, from North West Leeds CID, said: “The ever increasing popularity of social networking sites has given rise to this type of blackmail scam.
“The victim in this case reported the incident but did not want to make a formal complaint.
“Due to the sensitive nature of the scam I believe a large number of similar offences will have taken place across the world with a significant proportion never being reported to law enforcement organisations.
“A simple internet search demonstrates this is a widespread problem with organised crime groups often behind this type of high-tech extortion.
“Criminals involved in this area of crime know that many of victims will not report the matter and even when they do it’s notoriously difficult for law enforcement organisations to detect and trace those involved.
“The simple message to avoid this type of scam is not to allow yourself to be put in a vulnerable position.
“I would also remind people to check their privacy settings on social networking sites like Facebook. The victim in the recent West Yorkshire investigation believed only his friends could see all the information on his profile page.
“This was not the case and made him a target for those looking to exploit people online.”