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Penticton RCMP see ‘alarming increase’ in online exploitation of youth

Click to play video: 'Penticton RCMP see increase in youth online exploitation' Penticton RCMP see increase in youth online exploitation
Penticton RCMP see increase in youth online exploitation – Jun 30, 2022

Now that school is out for the summer, youth may be spending more time online but Penticton RCMP are warning parents and youth of some concerning online behaviour.

Penticton RCMP says that they’ve seen an alarming increase in the number of youth reporting having been victims of online sex-related extortion tactics.

“These tactics may include a predator building trust with a youth, and later requesting the youth engage in sexually explicit behaviour,” said Penticton RCMP Const. James Grandy in a press release.

“The predator later notifies the youth the imagery was recorded, and immediately threatens to release the imagery unless a sum of money is paid.”

Read more: Parents warn of worldwide sextortion targeting teens

RCMP said many of the common social media apps youth are using today can be used to exploit them. Penticton RCMP Const. Dayne Lyons said one example of a common app is Snapchat.

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“An example that I’ve seen of online sexual exploitation that children can fall victim to is adding a Snapchat account of a user who you don’t know,” said Lyons.

“Through conversation with that individual, they elicit a nude photo of you, and then try and blackmail you with gift cards or threats.”

RCMP emphasized that this issue isn’t specific to Penticton.

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It has been a decade since 15-year-old Amanda Todd died by suicide after being repeatedly harassed online and the trial of the man accused, Aydin Coban, of online extortion is ongoing.

RCMP said there are tools for parents and youth to use in order to stay safe online.

“If you feel like you or your child have fallen victim to something like this, we definitely encourage you to report it to your local police detachment,” said Lyons.

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“Or visit protectkidsonline.ca. Here you’ll be able to get a lot of resources, how to combat these issues, as well as what to do if you feel like you’ve become victim.”

He went on to say that Penticton RCMP actively work with local agencies throughout the South Okanagan to better support any victims who come forward.

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