Police in the North West are advising local young people to be wary if they are unexpectedly contacted online by individuals or organisations asking them to send them personal photographs.
The warning follows an incident in which a 16-year-old girl was invited as a friend of a person on an online site. The invitation came from a female who claimed to represent a well-known Belfast-based modelling agency.
Chief Inspector Alan Hutton said: “The young Strabane girl was invited to send on photographs of herself and did send some general images. She was then asked to send some more revealing and intimate photographs, but became suspicious and refused to do so.
“We have made enquiries with the modelling agency, which has no knowledge of the woman who purported to work for them. It appears this was a bogus site.
“While this is an unusual report in the North West, we are aware of other similar scams. Some involve fraudsters seeking to convince young people to spend large sums of money on photographic portfolios that are worthless. Others seek to gather intimate photographs of young people for a more sinister purpose.
“No matter how convincing they are, do not engage on a social media forum with anyone claiming to be from a modelling agency. Genuine agencies have their own means of recruiting models. Never agree to meet anyone from a ‘modelling agency’ unless it is at the agency’s registered office.
“Genuine agencies will never ask inexperienced young people to provide intimate photographs of themselves. For under 18s, such photographs may, in any case illegal.
“If you are interested on a modelling career, then you should contact a reputable agency and talk to them in person.”