The National Crime Agency has issued an alert to hundreds of thousands of education professionals following a considerable increase in global cases of financially motivated sexual extortion – a type of online blackmail widely known as ‘sextortion’.

Advice to parents and carers if their child says that someone is trying to trick, threaten or blackmail them online:

Don’t pay, do stop contact and block: you may be tempted to pay, but there is no guarantee that this will stop the threats. As the offender’s motive is to get money, once you have shown you can pay, they will likely ask for more and blackmail may continue. If you have paid, don’t panic but don’t pay anything more. Help your child to stop all communication with the offender and block them on any accounts that they have been contacted on.

Avoid deleting anything: try not to delete anything that could be used as evidence such as messages, images, telephone numbers, and bank account details.

Report to the police or: call 101 or 999 if there is an immediate risk of harm to your child. You can also use the CEOP Safety Centre to report any online blackmail attempts.

Adults can also support young people in getting their images removed using Childline and the Internet Watch Foundation’s Report Remove tool, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s Take It Down tool, and reporting to the platform or app it has been shared on. Further information for parents and carers on how they can support their child can be found in the CEOP Education’s online blackmail article.