In a number of separate cases in Meath over the past few weeks, teenagers were given demands for thousands of euros to stop the images from being shared online and with friends and family.
Gardaí are investigating attempts to blackmail young teenagers who were sexually coerced online for explicit images of themselves.
Crime prevention officer Sergeant Dean Kerins, who advised the young men after the incidents, is now urging teenagers to be very careful on the internet, especially in accepting friend requests from strangers.
These young lads, between 16 and 17, got a friend request from a pretty stranger. An automated conversation ensued and they were sent a naked picture from the ‘girl’, asking for one in return.
“Naively, they sent one back and then received demands for thousands of euro, threatening to post the images online and to family members if they didn’t pay up.
“In recent weeks, there have been a number of cases of young teenagers who have been blackmailed after sharing sensitive images online,” he said.
“In one case, demands were as high as €8,000 and in another, the blackmailer reduced the payment to €300 when the teenager said he wouldn’t pay it.
These young men are worried sick that the images will appear online but thankfully, all of them had the sense not to pay and raise the alarm.”
Sgt Kerins said people refuse to believe these things happen in Ireland.
“Unfortunately, it does happen here but often, people are too embarrassed to report them. People put their lives on social media these days without even thinking of the consequences down the line in terms of security. Everyone needs to be mindful of what they are posting and who they are talking to on social media.”
Sgt Kerins advised victims of these crimes not to pay anything. “Preserve evidence and don’t delete anything but stop the communication. Block the person and report it to the gardaí and bring your tablet or laptop so they can examine it.”