The man in charge of the Technological Crime Unit for the Nova Scotia RCMP is speaking out and trying to raise awareness about a “sextortion scam” that currently making its way around our region.
“If you’re doing stuff online with somebody you don’t personally know, you have got to expect it’s being recorded,” said Staff Sgt. Royce MacRae.
Here’s how the scam works: a perpetrator gains a victim’s trust after talking to them online and a sex act is performed.
The victim in the case doesn’t know it at the time, but the suspect secretly records the video and threatens to release it unless they are given a certain amount of money.
“Basically, you think you’re with somebody that’s a friend of yours online,” MacRae told Global News.
“You’ve been talking to this person for maybe the last couple months and it progresses from one step to the next in this online relationship and a sexual act happens online between the two people and all of a sudden you’re told this was recorded and if you do not provide x amount of dollars, it will be released to your employer, to your family to your friends.”
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The scam isn’t exactly new – but six cases have recently been reported to the RCMP, which MacRae says is unusual.
“These ones have actually been women targeting men which is not the norm and these guys are experts, they know how to manipulate people,” he said.
It’s believed one person sent money after it was demanded of them. Anyone who is caught up in the scam is encouraged to contact police.
“What often happens is they’ll look for money from you originally, if you decide to pay off then maybe they’ll come back to you in a few weeks and say I appreciate that but now we need more money or we’ll go to your employer, your family, your friends list.”
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All six recent cases happened in Halifax but police say there are likely victims in other parts of the Maritimes.
“These people are masters at this. They manipulate people on a regular basis. They’re not doing just the one person. It’s not uncommon for these people to have 100 of these or more to be going on at one time, working people, trying to get money out of them,” said MacRae.
“While it might seem embarrassing, it’s part of an organized ring and if you don’t report it maybe these people are going to take advantage of other people.”