28 November 2023

Wollongong teen faces a series of sextortion and blackmail charges

| Katrina Condie
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NSW Police have charged a teenage boy with multiple offences. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

The NSW Cybercrime Squad has charged a 17-year-old Wollongong boy with several sextortion and blackmail offences against a 16-year-old Sydney girl, and police fear he may have been talking to at least five more victims in an attempt to sextort them.

On Wednesday, 19 October, 2023, officers attached to Ryde Police Area Command and the State Crime Command’s Cybercrime Squad began investigating the alleged sextortion and blackmail of the girl.

About 9:30 pm the same day, the 17-year-old boy was arrested in Wollongong and taken to Wollongong Police Station, where he was charged with blackmail, threatening to record or distribute an intimate image, and using a carriage service for child abuse material.

He was granted conditional bail to appear before a children’s court on Wednesday, 24 January, 2024.

Further inquiries under Strike Force Lutwyche led detectives to an address in Gwynneville at 7:40 am on Wednesday, 22 November, where they again arrested the teen.

He was taken to Wollongong Police Station, where he was charged with using a carriage service to solicit child abuse material, aggravated offence re private sexual material using carriage service, and demand with menaces intending to obtain gain/cause loss.

He was refused bail and appeared before a children’s court on Thursday, 23 November, where he was granted conditional bail to reappear today (Tuesday, 28 November).

Commander of the State Crime Command’s Cybercrime Squad, Detective Superintendent Matthew Craft, said sextortion was a global trend that had increased in Australia recently.

“Sextortion is where offenders target predominantly teenage boys online and request sexual images before threatening to share them publicly unless the victim pays up,” he said.

“While it’s a scary and sometimes embarrassing predicament to find yourself in, we want victims to know there are options available to them and police have powers to take action against alleged offenders.

“Anyone can become a target of sextortion, and it is never the victim’s fault. But there are steps everyone can take: for example, not sending any images to anyone online that you wouldn’t proudly display on a public noticeboard yourself.”

Anyone with information that may assist investigators is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or at https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence.

The public is reminded not to report information via NSW Police social media pages.

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