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Sextortion complaints on the rise in Kamloops, B.C.

Kamloops police are reminding the public to be aware of so-called 'sextortion' scams after incidents occurred this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

After a spike in sextortion complaints, Kamloops Mounties are warning area residents, particularly teenagers, against sending nude images.

There were at least six reports involving adults and youths who shared intimate images online and were then blackmailed for money to prevent the distribution of those images in the last month, RCMP Const Const. Crystal Evelyn said in a press release.

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While there may be similarities in the acts committed, RCMP said there is no evidence to suggest these incidents are related. Given that some reports involve teenagers, local Mounties are concerned.

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“In many of these cases, the fraudster will make contact with the victim via social media and convince them to send a sexual image or perform a sexual act they may be secretly recording,” Const. Phil Whiles, Kamloops RCMP sex crimes investigator.

“The fraudster then threatens to send the content to others unless the victim sends them money or more content.”

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Police are encouraging adults to talk to their kids about the dangers of sextortion and the potential consequences of their online behaviour.

Read more: The latest sextortion tactic, how to help your kids prevent and report it

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“We understand it may be uncomfortable for some adults to discuss with their teenagers, but it’s an important discussion to have in order to help prevent the discomfort and fear that can follow after the images have already been sent,” Const. Whiles said in a press release.

“If it does happen, they need to know they can go to a safe, trusted adult to report.”

RCMP offered some things to think about in the meantime.

They recommend that people think carefully before they post, noting that information is instant, public and permanent.

RCMP said people should not accept friend requests on social media from unknown people or share or send intimate images of themselves with anyone.

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“If f you aren’t OK with the whole world seeing it, do not send it,” RCMP said.

“Use privacy settings on social media and keep personal information to a minimum and trust your instincts, if anything about an interaction makes you feel uncomfortable, end the conversation immediately.”

Parents are advised to be open about online behaviour, place computers in busy family areas and make online activity part of their regular conversations.

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They encourage parents to urge teens to take breaks away from devices and work with their children on how to behave safely online from a young age.

If, however, someone falls prey to a sextortionist, RCMP recommends that people stop communication, don’t offer to comply with the threat and do not send money or additional images.

Resources and additional information on ways to keep your teens safe online can be found by visiting www.needhelpnow.ca or www.cybertip.ca.

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