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Sask. RCMP warn about ‘escort’ service text message extortion scam

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan police issue warning about text message extortion scam'
Saskatchewan police issue warning about text message extortion scam
Warnings continue about a text message extortion scam making its way across Canada – Aug 18, 2022

The Saskatchewan RCMP is joining the Regina Police Service (RPS) and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) in warning the public about a new scam involving a text message, a payment demand and threats of violence against the victims and their loved ones.

“In each report, the complainant received a text message from a sender claiming to be from an escort company, accusing the victim of having used their services without paying,” an RCMP release reads.

Read more: Regina police warn of new scam with victims being threatened

“The sender of the text messages then demands payment and advises the victim that if they do not pay, their personal safety or that of their family or friends will be in danger. These text messages have also been accompanied by graphic images of violent scenarios including assaults and homicides.”

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Earlier this week, the Regina Police Service issued an advisory warning of the same extortion-based scam.

“They’re using phrases like ‘rip you apart, cut off your heads,’ things that are very very violent and very alarming,” said RPS Public Information and Strategic Communication Manager Elizabeth Popowich.

“We understand from communication with other agencies… that there have been reports received across Canada but I would say in Regina we have only started seeing reports in the last two weeks or so. We have only had five maybe six reports by now.”

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan police issue warning about text message extortion scam'
Saskatchewan police issue warning about text message extortion scam

Police urge anyone who encounters such a scenario to remain calm and think critically.

“Don’t react emotionally. Don’t do anything quickly. In other words, don’t send money. Don’t react. Try to be calm try and to be little bit objective.”

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Read more: Travel industry seeing spike in scams. How to protect yourself while abroad

A July 22 fraud alert posted by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre warns of a “rise in reports of violent extortion text messages.”

“The messages claim that victims have used or cancelled a service and wasted the suspect’s precious time,” the alert reads.

“The messages threaten that if a payment is not sent, you and your family may be targeted and harmed. Some of the reports show that the messages may also include photos of weapons as an added attempt to intimidate victims. Based on reports received, victims have not used the service which fraudsters are mentioning.”

The CAFC asks that anyone who receives a threatening message report the details to CAFC after contacting police.

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