'Devastating' | 

Gardaí warn of blackmail scammers who threaten to send nude photos to friends and family

Sergeant John Kelly urged parents to have discussions with their children about the dangers of sending intimate photos on messaging apps.

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Neasa CumiskeySunday World

Gardaí are warning young people about the dangers of sharing intimate photos online after a young was caught in a blackmail scam.

Sergeant John Kelly from Fermoy Garda Station was speaking this morning to Patricia Messinger on C103's Cork Today Show about the “devastating” case.

He explained that a young man was duped into thinking that he had formed an online relationship with a woman and had sent her intimate photos.

However, he later discovered that he had been ‘catfished’ by a man, who then demanded money from the victim.

“In this case, maybe a male youth of 18 or 19 believed they were texting a female, and intimate photos were exchanged,” Sergeant Kelly said.

“And next thing, a man came through and said, ‘If you don’t pay €500, those photos are going to be circulated to your friends.’ It’s absolutely devastating”.

He urged parents to have discussions with their children about the dangers of sending intimate photos on social media messaging apps.

“It’s quite a new world out there with a lot of what’s going on out there with phones.

“An awful lot of what they call child porn is actually children that are sending intimate photos of themselves to other children.

“It’s very important for people to have a chat with their children regarding smartphones and what to do or what not to do, the etiquettes involved”.

Sergeant Kelly added that anyone who does find themselves targeted by one of these blackmailers should report the incident to gardaí.

“Don’t pay and report it to us straight away. They’re not going to share it with anyone.

“Make sure that you don’t bottle it up inside. You go and you seek help straight away. That’s the important thing. Nothing is too big that it can’t be fixed”.

It comes after dozens of Limerick students received inappropriate messages from an unknown phone number on WhatsApp and through other social media accounts last year.

Garda John Finnerty of Henry Street Garda Station said that the sender claimed to have “intimate” photos of the student, using doctored images of the recipient’s face which appear to show them in compromising positions.

The pictures of the teenagers’ faces may have been lifted from social media platforms such as Instagram.

“The student is then told to pay money to the sender or the sender will send the photo to everyone in their Instagram account. In effect the student is being threatened with blackmail,” he told the Limerick Leader at the time.

If a student does receive one of these messages, they are advised to report the incident, ignore the sender and, under no circumstance, send them money.

“We would advise students who receive such messages to speak with parents or guardians, bring it to the attention of school or college authorities and report the matter to their local Gardaí,” a garda spokesperson said.

“Take a screenshot any message that you receive, then delete the message immediately and block unknown numbers.”

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