GEORGETOWN, Ky. (FOX 56) — Police in Georgetown are getting reports of “sextortion” calls in the area.

Sextortion is when a Snapchat or Instagram user obtains compromising photos or videos from another user and blackmails them with the threat that if they don’t provide money, they will post the images to all of their contacts and followers.

Essentially, sextortion is the threat to expose sexual images of someone in order to make them do something. The threats can come from a wide range of individuals from strangers met online, to previous romantic partners.

If you find yourself in a sextortion situation, the Georgetown Police Department recommends you:

  • Cease contact: Every situation is different. Sextortionists who are motivated by financial gain usually do not distribute images. The best first line of defense is to end all contact.
  • Block: Immediately block the person on your social media pages, email, and phone.
  • Do not pay: If the person requests money, do not pay them. This will likely increase the threats and extortion efforts of the person attempting to receive money.
  • Collect evidence and document communications: This will help in your effort to file a police report.
  • Beware of expensive cyber-recovery scams: These scams claim to be able to access the images and destroy them. Often, this is another layer to the overall sextortion scam.
  • Consider deactivating your social media accounts: If you are being contacted across multiple profiles, it may be beneficial to temporarily deactivate your accounts.

In order to protect yourself, and avoid the situation altogether, Georgetown police recommend you:

  • Never send compromising images of yourself to anyone, no matter who they are or say they are.
  • Do not open attachments from people you do not know. Links can secretly hack your electronic devices using malware to access your private data, photos, and contacts or control your web camera and microphone without your knowledge.
  • Turn off your electronic devices and web cameras when not in use.

The Georgetown Police Department emphasizes if you become victimized by this scam, you are not alone. This type of ploy affects thousands of people, and you should not feel embarrassed or afraid to contact law enforcement.