Saturday 3 December 2016

'This is happening everywhere around the country' - wife of man who killed himself after sex video blackmail warns others

Cathal McMahon

Published 30/03/2016 | 18:42

Stock Image/Bloomberg
Stock Image/Bloomberg

A mum whose husband took his own life after he was allegedly blackmailed by a sex scammer has revealed other vulnerable men are falling for the "honeytrap".

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Yesterday we revealed how the father, from the east of the country, killed himself shortly after a video of him performing a sex act appeared on social network site Facebook.

His wife - who has asked not to be named to protect her children - claimed a gang extorted €1,000 from her him after obtaining the compromising video clip.

Now she has revealed that others are falling for the same scam.

“When it came out about my husband I did hear about another case in my town.”

“Judging by things I am seeing online and on Facebook, this is happening everywhere around the country. It’s very widespread."

Experienced computer forensics investigator Andrew Harbison has advised anybody who feels under threat to contact the gardai so they can piece together a pattern and target the criminal gangs.

He said organised crime gangs are targeting vulnerable internet users in Ireland with "exceptionally persuasive" webcam blackmail tactics.

"This is called webmail blackmail and it's been around for about five years now. It started off so like many of these online scams with just one person acting. Now, unfortunately, organised crime got into it," Mr Harbison said.

"For the bad guy, this man was the perfect target, he seemed to be a social media novice and he seemed vulnerable."

Mr Harbison advised any victims to go straight to the gardaí.

"If enough people let the gardai know what's going on, they can put together a pattern and find out who's doing it.

"It takes a lot to shock a guard. It's nothing they haven't seen before," he said.

Speaking to Independent.ie the latest victim's wife said she is happy to have raised awareness about the scam adding that it was worth it if it helps just one person.

“People caught by this are embarrassed and ashamed,” she explained. “I firmly believe that if they know it is happening to other people then they might talk about it, they might open up about it.”

“They are not on their own, it is a scam and there is a way out other than suicide.”

If you need someone to talk to, contact Samaritans 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org

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