GARDAÍ have urged people not to engage with a WhatsApp social media scam circulating among secondary school students which attempts to blackmail them by threatening to circulate fake intimate photos of them online.
Garda John Finnerty of Henry Street Garda Station advised people with smartphones to be on guard if they receive such a message and to report it to Gardaí who will try to locate the sender.
“This pertains to some students receiving inappropriate whatsApp messages from an unknown number or from an unknown account on social media. The message says that the sender has inappropriate photos of the student,” explained Garda Finnerty.
The photos, which have been been copied from social media, have been manipulated to show the student in a compromising situation.
“The student is then told to pay money to the sender or the photo will be sent to everyone in their Instagram account. In effect, the student is being threatened with blackmail.”
Garda Finnerty advised students and parents to be vigilant and that there are a number of options available to the receiver of such a message to avoid being taking in or upset by the scam.
Garda Finnerty said that if a student receives such a message, they should not respond to it and pay money to the scammer.
“Tell your parents or guardians and the school. Report the matter to the Gardaí and screenshot any message that you receive. Then delete the message immediately and block unknown numbers.”
“If you receive photos from an unknown source showing a friend in a compromising situation, follow the same guidelines,” Garda Finnerty advised.