Sharing explicit images fuelling rise in blackmail, senior Met officer warns

A rise in blackmail in the capital has been fuelled by people sharing explicit photos and videos of themselves, it has been reported.

The Metropolitan Police’s head of cyber and economic crime command told the Daily Mail that intimate photos and videos texted or shared on social media made up the bulk of blackmail material the force deals with.

The paper reported that the number of blackmail cases in the capital surged by 57% from 1,700 in 2017 to 2,677 the following year according to Scotland Yard figures.

The swapping of explicit photos has led to the increase (Lauren Hurley/PA)
The swapping of explicit photos has led to the increase (Lauren Hurley/PA)

Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Gallagher told the paper the rise in online dating and swapping of intimate photographs online had led to the rise in people being extorted.

He said there were several types of blackmail and added: “One of them is sexploitation, where invariably young men and women are online and asked to FaceTime the suspect who encourages them to perform sexual acts.

“It’s all recorded and they are told unless they give them money it’s going to be sent to friends and family.

“For a long time we believed this was not being reported for many reasons, maybe embarrassment at shaming the family or themselves.

“But in the last year we have become conscious that more and more of this offending is being reported as the public becomes aware of it.”

The senior police offer said even teenagers were committing offences and added: “Certainly with some of the sexploitation and shaming stuff that goes on, schoolchildren are involved in that.”

Mr Gallagher said that linked to these type of offences are offences where couples having made an “intimate tape” together then split up and the one circulates the tapes to friends and family.

He added: “Linked to that are offences, not always blackmail, linked to shaming, where a couple have made an intimate tape together, they split up and the male partner circulates the sex video to friends and family.

“It’s been around for a while but we are only just seeing it being reported in the last 12 months or so.”

Mr Gallagher also told the Daily Mail that criminal hacking syndicates were stealing data and compromising images to blackmail internet users.

He added: “The other thing contributing to this, but not in such volume is hacking syndicates getting into companies and organisations and blackmailing them to get their data back.”

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