Cyber sex crimes on the rise across Edinburgh
CYBER sex crime is on the rise across the Capital, latest Police Scotland statistics reveal.
Reports include paedophiles trying to groom kids online or innocent individuals targeted by blackmailers in so-called ‘sexploitation’ cases.
There have been double the number of indecent communication crimes year-on-year and two-thirds more extortion cases.
“Technological and societal changes have opened up new channels for indecent communications,” said Dr Liz Aston, Associate Professor of Criminology at Napier University.
“There has been an increase nationally in the number of police recorded cyber-enabled sexual crimes.
“Indecent communications which are cyber-enabled tend to have victims and offenders who are younger and more likely to know each other than non-cyber cases.”
From July to September this year, extortion, including threats, were up nearly two-thirds (65 percent) from 23 to 38 - driven by cyber sex blackmailing from abroad.
Typical cases see men engage in virtual sex acts online before being told to pay up or have their secret exposed.
“It’s online extortion from abroad,” said chief superintendent Gareth Blair. “An individual will go online and get contacted by a female, maybe in the Philippines.
“He’ll engage in virtual sex acts and then be extorted - it’s on the increase across the UK.”
Earlier this year, it was reported that at least five British men and boys killed themselves after falling victims to online “sextortion” as criminal gangs target more victims than ever.
Police have urged victims to seek help in confidence with thousands targeted in the UK every year amid fears the crime is significantly underreported.
The scam sees victims conned into believing they are talking online to an attractive person who encourages them to perform a sexual act on webcam as they play a pre-recorded video purporting to be doing the same.
But the target is covertly recorded and the images are then used to blackmail them into paying large sums of money to prevent them being published online or sent to their loved ones.
One such high-profile case was that of Fife teenager Daniel Perry who jumped to his death from the Forth Road Bridge in July 2013.
But while the victims of such sexploitation cases are entirely innocent - paedophiles are also going online with more sinister motives.
From July to September this year, cases of communicating indecently in Edinburgh doubled from 29 to 58.
Mr Blair said the rise in such cases was down to so-called stings by controversial vigilante paedophile hunters such as the Wolf Pack.
The group snare perverts online by using adult ‘decoys’ to pretend to be kids in chatrooms.
Paedophile Kenneth Long, 53, was caged for 18 months earlier this month after sending a vile photo to a Wolf Pack decoy who he thought was a 12-year-old boy.
“It’s not for me to comment on whether they should exist or not,” said Mr Blair, of vigilante groups. “But if they present an offender to us, we will certainly deal with it.”