SURREY RCMP on Tuesday warned both youth and adults to be aware of an increase in online sexual extortions.
Between April and June, Surrey RCMP received 40 reports of sexual extortions compared to 34 reports during the same time period in 2021.
Sextortion scams reported generally involved victims being coerced into sending money or performing sexual acts on camera. These scams can occur in as little as 20 minutes.
Commonly, males are targeted and deceived into believing they are communicating online with a female. Scammers create fake profiles on social media and dating websites, which they use to lure a person into performing sexual acts on camera.
The scammer records the session and threatens to send the image or video to family, friends and/or other people unless they receive money or additional sexual content.
Offenders often share screen captures of the victim’s contacts or other identifying information such as their school and home address, so that the threat appears more credible and the victim is scared into complying with their request.
How to protect yourself
- Recognize that live streaming can be recorded and that pre-recorded videos can be livestreamed
- Familiarize yourself with social media privacy settings and consider limiting who has access to your personal information (i.e., friends’ list, location)
- Do not share intimate images or videos as once you share you don’t have control over what someone else does with it
- Unless you know the person offline, there is no way to confirm who is on the other end
- Trust your instincts, be skeptical and cautious
- Learn more and protect yourself from sextortion.
If you are a victim of sextortion:
- Immediately stop all communication. Deactivate (but don’t delete) any of the accounts you are using to communicate with the individual.
- Do not comply with the threat. In other words, never pay money and never send additional nude material. The situation will not get better by doing either of these things.
- If you have sent money, check to see if it has been collected and, if not, quickly cancel the payment.
- Make a police report
- Keep the correspondence. Keep information such as the person’s username(s), social media account information, a copy of the communications, along with any images and/or videos that were sent.
Surrey RCMP conducts ongoing education and prevention sessions on topics such as online sexual exploitation, through programs such as Project Lavender and presentations from counsellors with the Family and Youth Resource Support Team (FYRST) on social media safety.