European Police Launch Campaign Targeting Online Extortion

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The European Union police agency and forces across the continent are launching a campaign warning of the rise in online extortion targeting children, saying that victims as young as 7 are falling prey to the crime, also known as sextortion or webcam blackmail.

Europol says in a report Monday that criminals prey on children who have shared sexual images of themselves online. The criminals target victims to get more sexually explicit material for financial gain.

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European police are launching a campaign using the hashtag SayNo to raise awareness and give youngsters advice on how to deal with online predators.

Exact figures about the increase in the crime are not available, in part because victims are often unwilling to report it, but Europol says the phenomenon is “skyrocketing.”

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