Police in B.C.’s Southern Interior are warning people of sextortion scams.
Sextortion is a way to extort money, or getting victims to do something against their will, by threatening to release embarrassing personal images or videos of them.
Kelowna RCMP issued the warning on Thursday, stating that romance scammers are alive and well during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
According to police, one of the more prevalent sextortion scams being reported involves an unsolicited friend request or contact on social media.
Police said as the online romantic relationship grows, the unsuspecting victim is encouraged to send explicit photographs or video of themselves.
The victims are then told that the image or video will be sent to loved ones, or posted online, unless money is paid to the extortionist.
Police are encouraging parents and guardians to talk to their children about the risks of sharing content.
It’s very important to have conversations about internet safety with your children, said Kelowna RCMP Cpl. Jocelyn Noseworthy.
“They need to know how to keep themselves safe, and to report threatening or sexually suggestive behaviour they encounter to a trusted adult immediately.”
The warning is being echoed by RCMP in B.C.’s Elk Valley, east of Cranbrook, after a number of school-age girls have come forward to say an unknown suspect had attempted to extort them after they had provided explicit photos of themselves over Snapchat.
“We need information to help us identify who is behind this and put a stop to it,” said Elk Valley RCMP acting Cpl. Debra Katerenchuk.
RCMP have issued the following tips to avoid becoming a sextortion victim:
- Do not accept friend requests from strangers on social media
- Disable your webcam when you are not using it
- Do not share explicit photographs or videos with anyone
RCMP also said that if you do become a victim to immediately stop communicating with the individual, save all correspondence and report the matter to police.
Click here for more information on how to protect yourself from scams and frauds.