Striptease blackmail trap snares chatroom user’s cash

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A MAN who stripped in front of a webcam in the hope the woman he was chatting to online would do the same got a nasty shock when she secretly recorded him undressing, then blackmailed him into sending her cash.

The victim, in his 20s and 
from Leeds, paid £240 to the trickster after she threatened to post the recording on YouTube and send the stills to his family on Facebook.

Police believe people are falling for the scam – which they say is the work of criminal gangs – across the country but may be too embarrassed to report it.

The man had been using the website Chatroulette, which randomly matches strangers from around the world for online video, audio or text conversations, when he was targeted by the woman, who claimed to be from California and on holiday in the Philippines.

She asked the victim if he wanted to chat privately using Skype, a free online video phone service, where their conversation turned sexual and the woman said she would take her clothes off – but only if the victim did so first.

Moments later the woman uploaded a recording of the striptease and told him she would post it online unless he paid $200 (£132) into an online account based in the Philippines.

She also produced a list of his Facebook friends, including his mother, sister, uncles and cousins and threatened to send them the images if he did not pay up.

Over the next two days she repeatedly contacted him demanding more money. He transferred £240 before refusing to send any more and called police.

West Yorkshire Police are not investigating, as the victim did not want to make a formal complaint, but have issued a warning.

Detective Sergeant Michael Casey, from North West Leeds CID, said: “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 the will not report the matter and even when they do it’s notoriously difficult for law enforcement organisations to detect and trace those involved.”

Det Sgt Casey urged internet users to tighten their privacy settings on social networking sites such as Facebook to avoid making themselves a target.