Law enforcers are warning internet users to be wary of a relatively new crime known as sextortion.
The crime sees web cam users being duped into performing sex acts in front of their web cams, under the illusion that they are in a safe space chatting to a legitimate person.
In actual fact, at the other end of the broadcast sit gangs of criminals who save the footage and use it as leverage to blackmail victims.
According to IBT the demands of the gangs are so traumatic that four men have already killed themselves in the UK after becoming victims.
The gangs threaten to share the videos online with the victim’s friends, family or colleagues unless they hand over money.
In the UK, more than 900 people have reported falling victim to sextortion but police estimate the number is actually far higher.
Investigators in the UK say many victims are being targeted by organised criminal gangs from overseas making it much more difficult to stop. Likely locations include the Philippines, Ivory Coast and Morocco.
Young victims are prevalent. Reports of these crimes in the UK this year come from people aged between 14 and 82.
Victims are advised to report the crimes and to not engage with any of the criminal demands.
They are also advised to temporarily suspend their Facebook account and use online reporting tools on YouTube and Skype to quickly identify and block any obtained material.
One victim explained to IBT that he worked late night shifts and used internet dating as a means to meet people. On a dating site he began talking to people and one suggested they speak on Skype. When they did, she managed to convince him to perform some sexual acts.
“Then the messages came up – ‘pay £500 or this is going all over Facebook. I want £500′. Then she started listing my friends’ details. I said I could not afford £500, she said £200 was the lowest. I said I could only pay £50. I offered to go to the bank but went to the police station instead,” he said.