Dyfed-Powys Police said it has received reports of online blackmail over the past month.
Residents are being contacted through email or social media, with demands to make payments to culprits in places including the Ivory Coast, the Philippines or Ukraine.
Dc Gareth Jordan said: “These types of blackmail normally fall into two categories and are called 'sextortion'."
He said phishing scams claim to have access PC web cams using data obtained from a breached database of a well-known company. The phish is to get more info from the person plus money.
The other form of incident is where “victims are chatting online using a webcam during a sexualised video chat and their sexual activity is recorded. The victim is then blackmailed into paying money to ensure the video is not released.”
“The most important aspect in investigations of this kind is the safeguarding and support we offer to victims. People in this position feel embarrassed and vulnerable, and we need to ensure they are offered support, or know where to go to receive it.
“We urge all victims to report incidents to police – you are not alone, and by taking that step you could help prevent other people from becoming victims,” Dc Jordan added.
To report blackmail or sextortion to Dyfed-Powys Police call 101. If you are at immediate threat of harm, always call 999.
For this type of sextortion, any web enabled chat facility can be used. Dyfed-Powys Police have had reports from victims using Facebook, Instagram, Skype, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Chat Roulette and Antiland, although there are many other apps capable of allowing it to be carried out.
Blackmailers often claim to have hacked their device and set up a dual screen system where they could record what the victim was watching, as well as what they were doing.
Victims are told the hacker has videos of them, which again would be shared with family and friends.
The force advice states:
Don’t panic. Stay calm and report it to police immediately. Your case will be taken seriously, it will be dealt with in confidence, and no judgements will be made on your behaviour.
Don’t pay. In some cases where victims have paid in the hope that the threats will go away, they have continued to receive demands. If you have already paid, check if the money has been collected. If it has, and you are able to, make a note of where it was collected. If it hasn’t then you can cancel the payment – and the quicker the better.
Don’t communicate with the offender. Take screenshots of any conversations, deactivate the social media account they contacted you on and use online reporting processes to report the matter to the social media platform. Deactivating the account, rather than shutting it down, will ensure data is preserved and will assist police in obtaining evidence.