A Brit holidaymaker was blackmailed by an iPhone thief who demanded £1,600 in exchange for not posting intimate images of his girlfriend online.
Ryan Hall, 21, became the victim of a new scam which sees foreign thieves trawl through stolen phones for compromising images, and threaten to upload them to the web.
His phone was stolen on a dream holiday to Tunisia , and the blackmailer said if he did not pay the money, private photos of beautician girlfriend Charlotte Keeney, 18, would be posted online.
Ryan said the thief went through his iPhone telephone address book, contacting his mum. When he refused to pay, the blackmailer bombarded his mum and Charlotte's phone with messages.
The conversation ended with the chilling text: "OK, tomorrow it's big surprise for you. Bye bye." "It is unbelievable," said Ryan.
"It was bad enough someone had nicked my phone while I was on holiday but to then threaten and blackmail is just the lowest of the low.
"He says he's going to publish the pictures and video on sites like Facebook. The threats have really scared us both."
Charlotte and Ryan, from Sittingbourne, Kent, were setting off home from a sunny week-long stay at the Sentido Phenicia Hotel in Hammamet, Tunisia, when his phone was snatched.
Ryan and Charlotte now face an agonising wait to see if he will follow through with his threats, with the student describing it as a "terrible situation".
Crime experts are warning the "ransom texts" sting is being repeated across southern Europe and north Africa. They claim tourists are at serious risk of blackmail if they become victims.
Harry Fletcher, boss of the Digital Trust, said: "We have heard of many occasions of criminals abroad stealing phones or computers to get confidential information, videos and photos.
"Their very sinister reason is that they know a significant proportion of phones will contain intimate pictures or videos. It is a growing and worrying trend."
He said Ryan did the right thing by "calling the blackmailer's bluff".
Mr Fletcher continued: "They will be stealing seven or eight phones a day hoping someone will pay them. If you say no', they will move on to the next victim."
A Thomas Cook spokesman said: "Our team in the resort did their utmost to assist Mr Hall at the time, and we are cooperating fully with the local authorities as their investigation into the incident continues."
Researchers recently revealed iPhones are the make most commonly stolen by crooks. Sexual cyber crime, or sextortion, is a growing global problem.
Last year, Daniel Perry, a 17-year-old mechanic from Fife, committed suicide after falling prey to blackmailers on Skype.