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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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Success at Youth Work Excellence nominations

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CEREDIGION Youth Service have been successful in being shortlisted for a number of awards at this year’s National Youth Excellence Awards. The awards will take place on Friday, 28 June at Deganwy, Llandudno. Youth Workers from across Wales will gather to celebrate excellent practice in youth work over the last year.

The Welsh Government’s Youth Work Excellence Awards recognise the value of youth work and youth services from across Wales. The Welsh Government has celebrated excellence in youth work since 1993 and the awards are now in their 25th year. Welsh Government said, “Celebrating Youth Work continues to be a priority, as we know that Youth Work continues to be an important part of many young people’s lives”.

Ceredigion Youth Service will not only be presented with both the Silver and Gold Quality Mark Awards for Youth Work in Wales by Minster for Education, Kirsty Williams at the event, but have also been shortlisted for a number of special awards, in which the winners will be announced on the evening.

Ceredigion Youth Service has been shortlisted for their ‘Prosiect 2050’ under the category; Promoting Heritage & Cultures in Wales and Beyond, their Cooking Club at Ysgol Henry Richard under the category; Promoting Health, Well-being & Active Lifestyles and the Inspire Program under the category; Promoting Engagement with Formal Education, Employment and Training.

In addition, Thomas Evans from Aberaeron Youth Club has been shortlisted for the Outstanding Volunteer in a youth work setting award and Lowri Evans, Ceredigion Youth Service has been shortlisted for the Outstanding Youth Worker award.

Elen James, Corporate Lead Officer with responsibility for Ceredigion Youth Service said, “It comes as no surprise that Ceredigion Youth Service have been shortlisted for such awards. The Youth Service team has achieved all three National Quality Mark Awards, and now having been shortlisted for so many special awards is a tremendous achievement.”

“The awards evening which celebrate outstanding youth work from across the country will be a fantastic opportunity for the Youth Service to receive recognition for their work with young people in Ceredigion. I wish them the very best for the night.”

For more information or to find out what opportunities are available to you, head over to their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages at @GICeredigionYS or contact the team on youth@ceredigion.gov.uk

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Local MP pledges to be a Bowel Cancer Champion

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BEN LAKE, Member of Parliament for Ceredigion, has pledged to become a Bowel Cancer Champion to lead the change in Parliament for people affected by the disease.

Someone is diagnosed with bowel cancer every 15 minutes, making it the UK’s fourth most common cancer. It’s also the second biggest cancer killer, nearly 16,000 people die from the disease every year. Yet bowel cancer is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early. However, only 15% are diagnosed at the earliest stage of the disease when the chance of survival is highest.

As a Bowel Cancer Champion, Ben Lake MP, will work with Bowel Cancer UK – the UK’s leading bowel cancer charity – to increase early diagnosis and improve access to best treatment and care both in Ceredigion and nationally. By working together with people affected by the disease and the clinical and research community, as well as MPs, the charity’s ambition is that by 2025, survival rates can be transformed from 60% of people surviving bowel cancer to 75%.

Ben Lake MP says: “It simply isn’t acceptable that so many people die from bowel cancer each year. That’s why I’m proud to be working with Bowel Cancer UK and helping them make real change happen through my role as a Bowel Cancer Champion. I look forward to using my position in Parliament to call for changes which can improve outcomes for patients with bowel cancer in Ceredigion. Together we can stop bowel cancer.”

Lisa Wilde, Director of Research and External Affairs at Bowel Cancer UK, says: “I’m delighted that Ben Lake has pledged to become a Bowel Cancer Champion. Ben will serve as a valuable ally in helping us to put bowel cancer firmly on the political agenda and campaigning for crucial improvements to services for bowel cancer patients both nationally and in Ceredigion.”

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Ceredigion Youth Service Awards Night Success

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Ysgol Henry Richard pupils receiving certificates.

ON Tuesday, 9 April, over 220 young people and their families, from across Ceredigion joined Ceredigion Youth Service to celebrate their annual Awards Night. The evening was an opportunity to celebrate and recognise the achievements and successes of all young people who have engaged with Ceredigion Youth Service during the past year.

Young people attended from each Secondary School in Ceredigion, Coleg Ceredigion, Ceredigion Training, young people working with the outreach service, and all the young people who attend youth clubs, youth projects and holiday provisions. There has been a wide variety of projects, activities and events held again this year, with up to 5,000 young people in attendance. These have been successful due to the commitment and enthusiasm shown by the young people from all over Ceredigion.

The special awards presented during the evening included awards for Young Volunteer of the Year, Outstanding Contribution awards, Campaign of the Year, Special Achievements and Community Engagement awards. In addition to the special award categories, numerous local certificates were celebrated and distributed to young people achieving national accreditations or to those who have participated in various clubs and projects.

Beca Fflur Williams, Chair of Ceredigion Youth Council leading the evening.

Catrin Miles, Cabinet member for Learning Services opened the evening. The evening was then hosted by Beca Fflur Williams, Chair of Ceredigion Youth Council. Guest speakers included Ashlie Day, Chloe Toose and Thomas Evans, Ceredigion Youth Service Young Volunteers. The awards were presented by Ellen ap Gwynn, Leader of Ceredigion County Council, Eifion Evans, Chief Executive of Ceredigion County Council and Hag Harris, Chairman of Ceredigion County Council. Clips were shown on the screen including a message from MP Ben Lake. The night was closed by Chelsea Jones and Louise Bryan, members of Penparcau Youth Club.

Elen James, Corporate Lead Officer for Lifelong Learning and Culture said, “Both Ceredigion Youth Service and the Council are extremely proud that over 400 young people have achieved awards through the Youth Service during the past year. Youth Service provision is hugely valuable to young people’s development as they transition into adulthood. Our youth clubs, outreach provision, work within schools and holiday programs offer a variety of opportunities for young people to be a part of something that supports and interests them.”

“The number of young people achieving awards, accreditation and certificates this year is a reflection of our young people’s commitment and enthusiasm across the county and it was a pleasure to welcome so many young people and their families to celebrate with us in Theatr Felinfach. Congratulations to you all!”

For more information or to find out what opportunities are available to you, head over to their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages at @GICeredigionYS or contact the team on youth@ceredigion.gov.uk.

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