The Saskatchewan Internet Child Exploitation Unit has issued a warning after receiving dozens of reports of ‘sextortion’ incidents involving children in the last month.
Police say offenders are commonly reaching out to teenage males on social media chat platforms, posing as a young girl of similar age to the victim.
They establish credibility with their victim, often through flattery or pretending they are in a relationship, before sending intimate photos of themselves (or the profile they are posing as).
They coerce victims into sending sexualized images back and then use them to blackmail the victim into sending money in return for silence.
According to police, offenders usually threaten the victims by saying they will send the photos to the young person’s friends or family.
Suspects in recent cases are mostly located overseas and have been difficult to identify and prosecute, the ICE unit says.
The Saskatoon Police Service encourages parents to have conversations with their children about personal online safety and what to do if they find themselves in a situation that makes them feel uncomfortable.