Teenage Boys In UK At Risk Of Blackmail After Stripping Off For Webcams

Boys are too embarrassed to come forward and report the crimes…

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by Sophie Wilkinson |

We've all seen Catfish, right? Someone pretends to be someone they're not when online so they can get something out of someone, or just fool someone, or maybe even fall in love with someone.

Well, a lot of the time, the situations in Catfish can be marginally sinister, like the person who pretended to be Bow Wow to get a date. However, none are quite so eerie as a new wave of internet fraudsters who get boys to strip on Skype, recording the footage (or at least saying they are), then using the images and footage to blackmail the boys into sending cash over to them.

Avon and Somerset Police and City of London Police are investigating cases where boys have been having these intimate sorts of chats with criminals who then go on to swindle them. Britain's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre claims that 184 British kids have fallen victim to one of these webcam plots in the past two years – remember, the fraudsters aren't just taking money, but they're looking at footage which, if the child is under 18, counts as child pornography.

The obstacles into investigating these criminals are that a lot of the boys targeted are too afraid to report it, according to a internet safety awareness charity Get Safe Online. Their chief executive Tony Neale told* The Metro*: 'It's terrible that fraudsters are targeting innocent people in such a personal way.'

The second thing getting in the way of discovering who's doing this is the fact the fraudsters are operating out of countries as distant as the Philippines. In July last year, 17-year-old Daniel Perry committed suicide after he fell victim to one of these webcam plots. He stripped off on camera thinking he was talking to a girl his age, but then he was targeted by fraudsters who threatened to leak the webcam video of him if he didn't pay up.

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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