RCMP caution residents that like many jurisdictions, Surrey is seeing an increase in sexual image extortion cases with 77 reports in the second quarter of 2020.
As shared in their April 21 news release, many of these files involve threats to expose a sexual image of the victim to other people if the victim does not pay money or provide more sexual content.
In a number of cases, individuals met the perpetrators online through social media or dating apps, and shared images and videos believing they were engaging in a mutual relationship. The photos and videos were later used for the purpose of extortion. In the reported incidents, the average ages of victims were between 18 and 29 years, and the number of male and female victims were evenly split.
“When you are considering sending someone else a nude photo or video, ask yourself if you are comfortable letting go of your control over those images,” said Staff-Sgt. Lyndsay O’Ruairc, Special Victim’s Unit Commander, said on Tuesday. “Images can be easily distributed and made public, and while it’s illegal to distribute nude photos without consent, the consequences for the victim can be significant.”
Surrey RCMP also continue to get reports from people who receive scam emails claiming their computer has been hacked. The person is told to send money or bitcoin under the threat of having nude or sexually explicit videos of them distributed. In these cases, there was no proof of photos or videos or other information being obtained from the victims’ computers.
Surrey RCMP are making the following recommendations which can help protect you from being a target of extortion:
- Be cautious in distributing nude photos and videos of yourself to anyone
- Disable your webcam or any other camera connected to the internet when you aren’t using it.
- Create complex, difficult to guess passwords for your devices and accounts and change the passwords frequently.
If you or someone you know is a victim of an extortion, call and report the incident to Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502. Surrey RCMP also recommend reporting extortion scams to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by going to their website or by calling 1-888-495-8501.