OVER the past week, Surrey RCMP has received multiple reports involving what is known as sextortion.
Sextortion involves a threat to send a sexual image of a person to other people if they don’t pay them a sum of money or provide more sexual content.
In the majority of reports to Surrey RCMP, individuals received an email where the scammer claimed to have hacked into their computer and recorded them performing an explicit act (i.e. masturbation). The scammer states they will release the video publicly unless they are paid in Bitcoin. In these cases, there was no proof of photos or videos actually being taken.
Fraudsters often cite a password which the victim is currently using, or has previously used, as proof of the hack. These passwords have likely been obtained in a previous data breach not as a result of the computer being hacked. The public is urged not to respond to these emails or to send any money.
Surrey RCMP also received reports of sextortion involving individuals who willingly sent nude or explicit photos to people they know, or met online. The photos were later used in an effort to extort money from the victims.
“It’s never a good idea to share intimate photos of yourself online – even if it’s with a person you trust,” said Staff-Sgt. Lyndsay O’Ruairc. “Sharing intimate photos leaves you vulnerable to being exploited.”
Some tips to protect yourself from being a target of sextortion are:
· 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.
· Don’t send intimate photos of yourself to anyone and don’t perform any explicit acts online.
Parents and guardians can find additional information regarding sextortion to protect youths by visiting the website for the Canadian Center for Child Protection.
If you or someone you know is a victim of this type of crime, call and report the incident to Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502 or, if you wish to make an anonymous report, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or www.solvecrime.ca.
Surrey RCMP also recommends reporting sextortion scams to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by going to their website or by calling 1-888-495-8501.