The Leduc RCMP is warning Albertans of “financial sextortion” tactics targeting the public.
Having received several reports in recent days, the detachment wants to offer tips to identify the practices used by offenders so that the members of the public can protect themselves and others.
According to a May 5 media release, financial sextortion is “a type of online blackmail” that has seen a recent rise in Alberta and across North America.
The practice involves someone online gaining confidence with someone else online to the point where sexual images or videos are shared with them, they then threaten the public release of the images unless a payment is made.
According to RCMP media relations, offenders will pose as someone close in age and use fake social media accounts “to target victims, deceiving them into sending explicit photos or videos.”
“These offenders know what they are doing, are organized, and are very good at what they do,” notes the release.
“They will rely on threats and aggressive behaviour to get you to send them what they want — it is important to remember that there is help available.”
RCMP Tips if someone does find themselves a victim of financial sextortion:
-Stop all communication with the offender.
-Deactivate, but do not delete your social media account or images.
-Save a copy of any images you sent, and take screenshots of the messages and the person’s profile, including username.
-Do not comply with any threats, and do not send money or more images.
-Trust your instincts, and practice caution when communicating online.
-Reach out to a trusted person and report what happened to local police.
-Trust that there is life after the images.
The release emphasizes that by reporting what happened to local police, the person reporting will not be in legal trouble nor held to blame for the situation; however, by reporting the situation to law enforcement others can potentially be protected from experiencing a similar experience.
Despite the fact that financial sextortion occurs in the online realm, it can have serious real-world effects.
“After the threats and aggression, victims can feel alone, ashamed, scared, and sometimes desperate — to the point where they can harm themselves,” notes the release.
“Countless adults and children in Canada and around the world have been threatened this way. There are resources and supports available to help. You are not alone.”
If someone has been a victim of financial sextortion, multiple resources are available:
-The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has sextortion resources available to the public.
-The Department of Justice’s Victim Services Directory can provide information on resources in your community available to victims of online sexual exploitation.
-Don’t Get Sextorted has information on staying safe and getting help.
-Need Help Now provides information on emotional support, reporting, helping a friend, and answering frequently asked questions.
-Public Safety Canada provides youth, parents and caregivers with additional resources on Online Dangers, including sextortion.
-Cybertip.ca provides information on staying safe online and how to report any concerns. You can provide your name and contact information, or complete the form anonymously.