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Tuesday 20 February 2018

Webcam 'honeytrap' scams target vulnerable internet users

Victims of ‘webmail blackmail’ have been urged to go to gardaí. Stock photo: Gualtiero Boffi
Victims of ‘webmail blackmail’ have been urged to go to gardaí. Stock photo: Gualtiero Boffi
Cathal McMahon

Cathal McMahon

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

Experienced computer forensics investigator Andrew Harbison has advised anybody who feels under threat to contact gardaí so they can target the criminal gangs.

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

He advised any victims to go straight to the gardaí.

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

A woman whose husband took his own life after he was blackmailed by a sex scammer is concerned that other vulnerable men are falling for the "honeytrap".

Yesterday, revealed how the father took his own life 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 husband before his suicide. Now she has revealed that others are falling for the same scam.

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

She added: "They are not on their own; it is a scam and there is a way out other than suicide."

If you need to talk to someone, contact the Samaritans on 116 123

Irish Independent

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