‘Sextortion’ often involves people being tricked into taking off some or all of their clothes in front of their webcam, only to be told that they have been recorded and that the video will be posted online or shown to the victim’s peers unless they pay their extortioner.
In some cases, Police Scotland said, the victim is also enticed into performing intimate acts.
The force warned that the consequences of the crime on victims can range from embarrassment to humiliation and, in extreme cases, self-harm or suicide.
Men and women can become victims – regardless of age or location.
Health Nelson, a Crime Reduction Officer, offered advice on how the public could avoid becoming a victim of the growing online menace.
She told locals not to “get lured into removing your clothes or performing intimate acts in front of your webcam. You do not know who may see the images.”
Facebook users should be wary about who they accept friend requests from, and should not accept them from complete strangers, even if they are a “mutual friend”.
Ms Nelson added: “Do not include any sensitive, private or confidential information in profiles.”
If you do become a victim, you should not pay your extortioner.
Ms Nelson said: “Do not communicate further with the offenders. Report the incident to the relevant social networking site.
“Keep all evidence of the communications you have had, taking screenshots if you can.”
She added: “Do not delete any correspondence.”
Victims can report the crime to the police via 101.