Northumbria Police has warned internet users to be on their guard against 'sextortion' after a spate of recent incidents.
In recent months, police have received reports of adults beingn lured into performing intimate acts in front of a webcam or sharing videos or images with people they have met online in chat rooms.
The recipient then threatens to blackmail the victim saying they will distribute the footage on social media sites and share with the victim's family and friends unless a substantial amount of money is paid.
Officers want to remind people to be on their guard and beware who they share content with online to avoid being lured into a compromising situation and exploited.
Detective Inspector Paul Stewart said: "Our advice would be don't say or do anything online that you wouldn't ever do in public or want to be seen in public - once something is online it is in the public domain and even though it might subsequently be deleted, others may have copied and shared it across the internet, even if you think it is just between you and the recipient this is not always the case.
"Be wary of who you speak to in chat rooms, even if you think you know them if you can't see the person at the other end they may not be who you think they are and it could be a very different person sat at the other end of the computer than who you think.
"Most importantly don't get lured into compromising situations with complete strangers where you could potentially put yourself at risk of being exploited and blackmailed, you don't know them and cannot trust them.
"These sorts of offences can have a huge impact on victims and we understand some victims may feel embarrassed but they can be reassured that officers will carry enquiries with the absolute sensitivity and we would urge anyone who has been a victim to come forward and speak to us."
People can contact police on 101, extension 69191 or via the Northumbria Police website, www.northumbria.police.uk where more information on staying safe online can be found.