Advertisement

International organized crime groups behind rise in online sextortion complaints: N.B. RCMP

Click to play video: 'RCMP urging parents to talk to teens about sharing private images online'
RCMP urging parents to talk to teens about sharing private images online
WATCH: The New Brunswick RCMP are urging parents to talk to their teens about sharing intimate images online. As Suzanne Lapointe reports, there's been a concerning increase in instances of youth being extorted by those threatening to share those images. – Mar 2, 2023

New Brunswick RCMP are urging parents to talk to their teens about internet safety after a rise in “sextortion” complaints across the province, particularly in the Moncton region.

Sextortion is a term describing a process where people are extorted for money after being coerced into sending intimate images to a stranger online.

NB RCMP Cpl. Hans Ouellette told Global News in an interview that his organization and the Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit noticed an increasing trend of reports starting in fall of 2022.

“Individuals are creating these fraudulent social media profiles on platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram,” he said.

“They befriend teenage boys, and sometimes teenage girls, and then they convince the victim to share intimate images and videos with them.”

He said once they receive those videos or pictures, they then threaten to release the images if they aren’t paid.

Story continues below advertisement

He said victims should not pay any money, block the profile and contact the police.

Ouellette said the RCMP believes the profiles are being created by members of “organized crime groups overseas.”

“We’re currently with our international law enforcement partners to further these investigations and get to the bottom of this” he said.

On Friday, NB RCMP announced two men and a women from Côte d’Ivoire, Africa were arrested in Moncton on Thursday in connection with online exploitation of youth.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

The individuals have been released and will appear in court at a later date, according the release.

The investigation is still ongoing.

Sextortion is on the rise across Canada, according to Stephen Sauer, director of Cybertip.ca, a national tipline for reporting online sexual exploitation of children.

“When we talk about increases, what we’re seeing is about 70 to 80 individuals per week coming in and looking for support related to this on a national level,” he told Global News on Thursday.

He said when victims contact his organization, they help walk them through the process of reporting it to authorities, as well as to moderators of the apps on which the extortion occurred.

Story continues below advertisement

“We have this tool called Project Arachnid that allows us to send notices for the removal the (child sexual abuse material) if it’s been detected online,” he said.

Click to play video: 'How to protect children from sextortion'
How to protect children from sextortion

He said the apps where sextortion commonly occurs, like Snapchat and Instagram, aren’t doing enough to combat the crime.

“Regulation is desperately needed at this point. The internet is a Wild West for these youth,” he said.

“Unfortunately these companies have not put enough into protecting their users. Governments need to come out and hold them accountable for what’s happening on their platforms,” he said.

Jessica Gallant, who manages the South East Sexual Assault Center, regularly does presentations in schools about sexual exploitation on social media.

Story continues below advertisement

“We talk about what are those red flags out there in social media? When you’re using apps, what are things you should be aware of?” she said in an interview.

She said parents need to talk to their children about online safety as soon as they start using social media.

“We want to encourage them to have those conversations even if they are a little awkward or uncomfortable at first,” she said.

“We want those kids to know they can talk to their parents or to adults if something like that were to happen.”

Victims of sextortion can reach out to the South East Sexual Assault Center for resources like counselling.

They can also reach out to Cybertip.ca for additional help.

Click to play video: 'Canada logs more than 70 sextortion complaints every week'
Canada logs more than 70 sextortion complaints every week

Sponsored content

AdChoices