Strathcona County, Alta. – Strathcona County RCMP have received three reports of sextortion scams since the beginning of June.
Sextortion is a form of exploitation that involves the threat of releasing shared intimate videos, images, or explicit messages online. Victims are typically lured into an online relationship through social media. As the relationship builds, victims are coerced into performing a sexual act on camera. The victim is later advised that the event was recorded and to pay a fee or the video or photo will be released publicly. In some cases, the victim might be asked to send more explicit images.
The reported incidents and social media platforms used may differ, but the results are usually the same – payments were requested to avoid having nude or compromising photos or video of sexual acts being released publicly to friends and family.
"It's never a good idea to share intimate photos of yourself online even if it's with a person you trust," said Cst. Chantelle Kelly of the Strathcona County RCMP. "Sharing intimate photos leaves you vulnerable to being exploited."
How to protect yourself from sextortion
- Don't accept 'friend' requests from strangers;
- Do not engage in online chats with people you don't know;
- Carefully consider who you are sharing explicit videos and photographs with;
- Deny any requests to perform an illicit act over the internet;
- If you get such requests, stop all forms of communication with the individual;
- Don't comply with any threats;
- Disable your webcam or any other camera connected to the internet when you are not using it. Hackers are able to obtain remote access and record;
- Consider using public profile photos that do not fully identify you;
Take further steps to improve the security of your social media profiles. Keep your friends list private and ensure your profile and photo albums are not open to the public.
If you have been a victim of this type of scam, report it to your local police detachment. If you are approached by a scammer, immediately stop all forms of communication and do not comply with the threats.