Red Deer RCMP say they have seen a recent increase in sextortion reports and are issuing a warning about the dangers of sending nude photos.
In the last week, officers in the central Alberta city say they have investigated two cases in which youth have shared intimate images online and were then extorted for money to prevent further distribution of the images.
Police are asking adults to talk to their kids about the danger of sextortion and sharing nude photos online.
“We understand it may be an uncomfortable conversation, but it’s an important one to have with your children,” said Cpl. Mike Evans.
“Unfortunately, once those images are sent, you have lost control of those pictures and may be distributed to other people; it is very difficult to have them removed.”
RCMP urge people to think before posting anything online – the information is instant, permanent and public.
Other steps people can take to protect themselves online:
- Do not accept friend requests on social media from unknown people
- Do not share or send intimate images of yourself with anyone – if you aren’t okay with the whole world seeing it, do not send it
- Use privacy settings on social media and keep personal information to a minimum
- Trust your instincts, if anything about an interaction makes you feel uncomfortable, end the conversation immediately
RCMP say parents should be open about online behaviour with their kids and make online activity part of regular conversations. Conversations about how to behave safely online should start at a young age, police said.
Anyone who becomes a victim of sextortion should immediately stop communicating with the other person and not comply with any threats. Victims should not send money or any additional pictures. People should keep all correspondence and report the situation to their local police, RCMP said.