The criminals have used the victim’s account to send messages to her contacts and friends – encouraging them to harm themselves.
They have then demanded money from the victim so she can regain control of the account.
Detective Inspector Paul Masters said: “Although this particular incident affected someone in the Southampton area, this is just one of a series of reports of this same type of fraud being committed throughout Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
“In this case, the victim has done the right thing by refusing to pay anything and by contacting all her friends to let them know individually to ignore the messages from her Snapchat.
“But we need to alert the general public – in particular young people and their parents – to be on their guard and to follow some simple advice.”
* Be wary of unusual messages on any of your accounts including social media, WhatsApp or email asking for assistance with financial transactions. Even if the message appears to be from someone you know and trust, you should check by calling them or speaking with them in person.
* Never respond to any requests to send money, or have money transferred through your account, by someone you don’t know and trust.
* You can protect your important online accounts by using a strong separate password and, where available, turn on two-factor authentication (2FA).
* Be aware that posts are sometimes made from accounts that may have been compromised and the content may not be from the named account holder. If you are in any way unsure you should contact the sender by calling or seeing them in person.
* Always be cautious about clicking on links within an email or a social media message.
DI Masters added: “If you have had something similar happen to one of your accounts, you can report it online to Action Fraud by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk. If you or someone else is in immediate danger or at risk from harm, dial 999.”.