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Police issue sextortion advice following online blackmail incidents

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DON’T panic. Don’t communicate. Don’t pay.

That’s the advice given to victims of online blackmail after Bitcoin payments spark sextortion fears.

Victims are faced with demands to pay, or the threat that intimate photos and videos will be shared.

Dyfed-Powys Police has offered the guidance after receiving reports of suspicious transactions involving the digital currency Bitcoin.

Victims are usually contacted through email or social media, with demands to make payments in Bitcoin.

Recent sextortion reports have followed two patterns.

Detective Sergeant Rob Gravelle said: “In two cases we’ve had recently, the victims have accepted a social media friend request from an unknown person, and started to chat with them.

“The offender has then asked the victim to engage in a video chat, with intimate photos and videos being shared. Following the conversation, a list of demands has been sent to the victim, with threats that if they do not pay, the videos will be sent to family and friends, or posted online.

“One victim reported that the blackmail fee was £1,500, which thankfully they did not pay.

“In two other cases that have been reported over the past month, the victim has been watching pornography online, and received an email containing threats shortly after.

“The offender claimed 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. The victims were told that the hacker had videos of them, which again would be shared with family and friends.”

Following these recent reports, Dyfed-Powys Police has offered advice to anyone who receives similar threats online.

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.
Do not 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.
Do not 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.
DS Gravelle continued: “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.”

To report blackmail or sextortion to Dyfed-Powys Police call 101. If you are at immediate threat of harm, always call 999.

To keep your online accounts as safe as possible, never use the same password for multiple accounts and make sure you change passwords regularly. Visit www.getsafeonline.org for more online security advice.

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Tributes paid to woman following Lampeter death

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TRIBUTES have been paid to a woman who died after she was assaulted in a town centre on Thursday (Nov 8).

The woman was taken to hospital with serious injuries following the attack in the Bridge Street area of Lampeter, Ceredigion. The incident happened at approximately 6pm.

Dyfed-Powys Police have formally identified her 39-year-oldold Katarzyna Elzbieta Paszek.

Her family said in a tribute: “As a family we are distraught by our loss of Katarzyna who was 39 and from Lampeter area.  She was a loving mother, daughter, sister and aunt and was loved by so many.

“We would now like time to grieve and would ask to be given privacy in which to do so.”

Two of the four men who were originally arrested in connection with the assault have been released with no further action.

A 40-year-old man remains in custody and a 27-year-old man has been released on bail.

Det Ch Insp Anthony Evans said: “This is now a murder enquiry and I am appealing to anyone with information that could help the investigation, no matter how insignificant you may feel it is, please get in touch.

“I would like to reassure the public that we are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.”
H.M Coroner has been informed, the police have confirmed.

Four men from the Lampeter area were arrested in connection with the incident.

A 40-year-old man remains in police custody. A 27-year-old man has been released on police bail.

A 31-year-old man has been released with no further action, and a 37-year-old man has been released with no further action.

The police said that anyone with information that can help officers with their investigation is asked to report it by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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Lampter: Murder inquiry launched after attacked woman dies

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A WOMAN has died after she was assaulted in a town centre on Thursday (Nov 8).
The woman was taken to hospital with serious injuries following the attack in the Bridge Street area of Lampeter, Ceredigion. The incident happened at approximately 18:00 HRS
Two of the four men who were originally arrested in connection with the assault have been released with no further action.
A 40-year-old man remains in custody and a 27-year-old man has been released on bail.
Det Ch Insp Anthony Evans said: “This is now a murder enquiry and I am appealing to anyone with information that could help the investigation, no matter how insignificant you may feel it is, please get in touch.
“I would like to reassure the public that we are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.”
H.M Coroner has been informed, the police have confirmed.
Four men from the Lampeter area were arrested in connection with the incident:-
A 40-year-old man remains in police custody. A 27-year-old man has been released on police bail. A 31-year-old man has been released with no further action, and a 37-year-old man has been released with no further action.
The police said that anyone with information that can help officers with their investigation is asked to report it by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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£25,000 funding for Cwmni Theatr Arad Goch

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CWMNI THEATR ARAD GOCH in Aberystwyth is set to receive £25,000 as part of the Welsh Government’s funding of community schemes over the next two years.

Alun Davies, Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Public Services, has announced which organisations are set to benefit from £2 million of Welsh Government funding from the Community Facilities Programme (CFP).

It has been earmarked for 17 projects across Wales aimed at developing community facilities which bring people together.

CFP is a capital grant scheme which funds the development of community facilities; providing opportunities for local people to improve their day to day lives. Grants are available at two levels – up to £25,000 and up to £250,000. The scheme is open to community and voluntary sector organisations, including social enterprises. All applicants are expected to work with partners which can come from the public, private or the third sectors.

Arad Goch aims to create relevant theatre for young people, that inspires, motivates and is memorable. Their work draws on indigenous Welsh material and traditions as well as contemporary and challenging themes and styles.

By touring extensively in Welsh and English around Wales, to theatres, schools, halls and centres, they try to ensure that the widest possible audience, in all corners of the country, have the opportunity to see and enjoy contemporary theatre of the highest order. The funding will help Cwmni Theatr Arad Goch to improve its reception area, fit new windows and commission an arts installation.

Alun Davies said, “The purpose of this funding is to help create resilient communities, where people are directly engaged with local issues. I want our communities to help to deliver the vital local services their people need and I will to continue to empower them to be able to do this. Each of the projects announced today provide opportunities to deliver locally, while improving community cohesion and bringing people together.”

Since the CFP opened in 2015 it has funded 83 projects across Wales with grants totalling £17.7 million.

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