A 31-year old Romanian national was sentenced last week in a court in Timisoara, Romania to 4 years in prison for blackmailing a British teenager and producing and distributing indecent pictures of a child. The 17-year old teenager from Coalisland (Northern Ireland) took his own life after the suspect tricked him into sharing intimate photographs of himself by posing as a girl online back in June 2015. This sentencing follows a joint investigation into the teenager’s death by the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Romanian Police, with the active support of Europol and the UK’s National Crime Agency.
Online sexual coercion is a crime
Often referred to as ‘sextortion’ or ‘webcam blackmailing’, the online coercion and extortion of children – a form of digital blackmail where sexual information or images are used to extort sexual material, sexual favours or money, has skyrocketed in the past years. Victims can be reluctant to come forward to law enforcement or seek help as they are embarrassed about the material the perpetrator has, or because they are unaware that they are victims of crime. In response to this worrying phenomenon, the European law enforcement community has joined forces to launch a campaign, #SayNO”, supported by Europol, to give advice to those who have been, or are likely to be targeted, and to strengthen reporting and support mechanisms. The campaign includes a short film, available in all EU languages, which helps people to recognise a potential online sexual coercion and extortion approach, provides online advice and highlights the importance of reporting the crime to the competent national authorities.
Are you a victim? Get help. Report it. We are here.
Europol’s message to those who are targeted is ‘don’t pay and don’t feel embarrassed to report it to the police’. If someone threatens you with sharing sexual photos or videos of you unless you send them more or pay them money, follow these steps:
- Don’t share more, don’t pay anything.
- Look for help. You are not alone.
- Preserve evidence. Don’t delete anything.
- Stop the communication. Block the person.
- Report it to the police.
For more advice on how to react if you, your child or someone that trusts you is potentially a victim of online sexual coercion and extortion, please check out our Say No campaign page.