Women bait in blackmail Skype scam

International scammers are using scantily clad women as bait to entice Kiwi men into "compromising positions" during online video chat sessions - and then blackmailing them.

The scam begins when a victim is approached by an attractive female through the website Skype, which allows users to make video calls to each other.

The pair chat and the woman asks the victim to accept her as a friend on Facebook. Their online conversation then takes a steamy turn, with the woman enticing the victim to appear in front of the camera in a sexual nature.

Once that has happened, a male voice cuts in from the woman's Skype connection, telling the victim to pay cash or risk having inappropriate photos of them posted on their own Facebook page.

Unbeknown to the victim, the online interactions are recorded so the scammer can later blackmail him.

Detective Senior Sergeant Aaron Pascoe said it was too early to say how many men across New Zealand had fallen victim to the scam.

"I can guarantee you though that there will be a lot of people falling for it," he said. "She's in on it, she's just the bait.

"They are asking for over $1000 and there will be people out there paying. And, once they start paying - the scammers just keep wanting more."

Mr Pascoe said the scam was reasonably well known to authorities, however victims rarely came forward as they were too embarrassed.

He said in the latest cases innocent Skype users were being approached out of the blue.

Mr Pascoe said it was easy to avoid becoming a victim.

"Be very careful who you are talking to online and what you do. If you do something compromising with someone you don't know, they can take photos and they can record it and then they can use it against you," he told the Herald.

Netsafe executive director Martin Cocker said the safety watchdog had received "a handful" of complaints about the scam in the past 12 months.

"The only way to avoid this situation is to keep your clothes on when on video chat sessions."

- By Anna Leask of the New Zealand Herald

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