Campbell River RCMP are asking the public to avoid sending intimate images over the internet, noting a trend of “sextortion” incidents online in the past year.
According to a RCMP release, sextortion refers to a social media scam where people are lured into fake online relationships. Scammers convince people to send intimate photos and videos of themselves. The scammer then states they will distribute the sensitive materials to the victim’s family, friends, and co-workers unless they are paid in money or online gift card credits.
“Campbell River RCMP are urging the public to educate themselves and their family members of the dangers of sharing intimate images. We know that these conversations can be hard, however these targeted behaviours appear to be increasing and we need to have these conversations to ensure we protect ourselves and our loved ones. We live in an age where social media platforms are abundant and since COVID I think we can safely say this social media presence has increased even more,” said Sgt. Chris Voller.
Though there were no reported cases in 2021, the local detachment has received 16 reports this year so far. In those cases, the targets are men aged 16 to 30.
“RCMP are urging the public to refrain from sending intimate images to people via the internet, especially when the person is unknown to them,” Voller said.
RCMP recommend the following tips to help stay safe while online:
- thinking before posting any information as it is “instant, public, and permanent”
- not accepting friend requests from unknown people
- using privacy settings and filters to limit public information broadcasted on social media
- trusting your instincts when conversing online — if something feels uncomfortable, end the conversation
If someone receives a threat of blackmail, RCMP urges those affected to stop communicating with the other person immediately, not to comply with demands for money or additional images and keep records of all correspondence to help report the incident to police.
For further information and resources on online safety, visit cybertip.ca.