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Intimate blackmail prompts garda warning

CLARE people looking for romance online are being warned to be careful not just with their heart, but with their personal information, as details have emerged that a young man was blackmailed by fraudsters.
The man had exchanged a series of texts including images with someone he understood to be a woman, however a demand was then made for money otherwise the images would be put online.
Clare Crime Prevention Officer Sergeant Triona Brooks outlined that the young man had been on an online dating app, but he later provided his personal mobile phone number to the person he had linked with on the app.
“A series of texts containing pictures and videos were exchanged. A demand was made for a sum of money to be paid or the pictures and videos would be posted on-line,” she said.
She has offered some tips to help others not to fall for a romance scam.
“Trust your instincts – if you think something feels wrong it probably is. Do not post personal information such as phone numbers on dating sites.”
She urged people to use authentic dating websites and “never send money or give credit card or online account details to anyone you don’t know and trust”.
“Wait until you feel comfortable with an individual before revealing your phone number, place of work or address.
“Always be mindful of what you post on the internet. It’s there for everybody to see and not just your friends. Beware if there are requests for inappropriate photos.
“These could be used for the purposes of blackmail at a later stage.”
Sergeant Brooks concluded, “If you think you have been scammed stop communication immediately, contact your bank if you have sent money and don’t be afraid to report it to the Gardaí. You will be treated sensitively and with total confidentiality.”

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