A rise in incidents involving sextortion in Burnaby is prompting Burnaby RCMP to issue a public alert.
The term sextortion is used to describe incidents that involve the threat of releasing shared intimate videos, images, or explicit messages online. The victim is asked to make a payment, usually via Bitcoin or money transfer, in order to stop the release of this material online – it is essentially blackmail.
Since May, Burnaby RCMP has investigated 24 incidents of sextortion. Some of these have resulted in victims transferring money to the suspect, so police are asking that the public be extra vigilant when it comes to communicating with strangers online.
The sextortion incidents can be broken down into two different scenarios:
The victim receives an unsolicited friend request via social media. The suspect will engage the victim in online chat and will ask to take the conversation to a video sharing platform. The suspect will then ask the victim to engage in some form of sexual activity including nudity and / or masturbation. The suspect will then end the session and tell the victim they have a video recording of their conversation. The suspect will threaten to release the video to the victim’s friends via social media unless the victim makes a payment, usually via Bitcoin or money transfer to the suspect.
The victim receives an unsolicited email from someone claiming to have a pornographic video of the victim. The suspect says in the email that the video will be sent to all of the victim’s email contacts unless they make a payment, again usually via Bitcoin or money transfer to the suspect.
The suspect may also email the victim stating that they will expose the victim’s use of porn sites. Again, the suspect asks for payment via Bitcoin or money transfer. In some instances, the suspect may have an old password that the victim has used in the past, either for email or for another website.
Police are asking that web users be careful of who they are engaging with online and to always be mindful that their actions may be recorded. Do not accept friend requests from people you do not know on social media.
Should anyone reach out to you and attempt to extort money in the way outlined above, police suggest that you do the following:
– Do not comply with any threat
– Stop all forms of communication with the individual
– Keep the correspondence you have had with the individual
– Report the incident to police immediately
More information on this scam and others can be found here on the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center website.