Sexual image extortion cases on the rise in B.C. cities | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Sexual image extortion cases on the rise in B.C. cities

Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
August 18, 2020 - 12:09 PM

Surrey RCMP say that more cities across B.C. are seeing an increase in sexual image extortions.

In Surrey alone, there have been 77 reports in the second quarter of 2020. Many of these files involve threats to expose a sexual image of the victim to other people if the victim does not pay money or provide more sexual content.

According to the RCMP release, in a number of cases, victims met the perpetrators online through social media or dating apps, and shared images and videos believing they were engaging in a mutual relationship. The photos and videos were later used for the purpose of extortion. In the reported incidents, the average ages of victims were between 18 and 29 years old, and the number of male and female victims were evenly split.

"When you are considering sending someone else a nude photo or video, ask yourself if you are comfortable letting go of your control over those images," Staff Sgt. Lyndsay O’Ruairc, Special Victims Unit Commander said in a press release. "Images can be easily distributed and made public, and while it’s illegal to distribute nude photos without consent, the consequences for the victim can be significant."

Surrey RCMP also continues to get reports from people who receive scam emails claiming their computer has been hacked. The person is told to send money or bitcoin under the threat of having nude or sexually explicit videos of them distributed. In these cases, there was no proof of photos or videos or other information being obtained from the victims’ computers.

Surrey RCMP recommends that people be cautious in distributing nude photos and videos of themselves to anyone. They recommend that webcams be disabled when connected to the internet and are not being used and that people create complex, difficult to guess passwords for your devices and accounts and change the passwords frequently.

If you or someone you know is a victim of extortion, please call and report the incident to Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502. Surrey RCMP also recommends reporting extortion scams to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by going to their website or by calling 1-888-495-8501.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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