“SEXTORTION”: Rise in cases prompts public warning by RCMP

CRIME Webcam Lens SquareTHE Richmond RCMP is issuing a public warning after seeing a recent uptick in the number of “sextortion” cases.

After visiting a companionship or dating website, victims are befriended online.  A suspect then entices the victim in performing intimate acts streamed over webcam or mobile device.  Unbeknownst to the victim, the interaction is secretly recorded. The suspect then threatens to release the video online unless they are paid by the victim.

Here are some clues:

* Contact is made through various social companionship or dating websites, generally free ones.

* Initial contact may be fairly innocuous and may not involve an intimate component for days or weeks.

* The suspect may have a number of reasons to avoid meeting in person or will only be able to talk / chat at certain hours, usually odd hours.

If you are a victim of this type of crime, you may not be alone. Constable Quinn Provost of the Richmond RCMP Serious Crimes Unit says, “It is important for the public to be aware that this type of crime is occurring. At the same time, it is important that any victims have a support network available. Feelings of hopelessness and shame are common for victims of this type of crime. It is important to be able to speak to someone about the incident – whether it is a parent, partner, sibling, friend, mental health professional or crisis worker.”

Richmond RCMP has some tips if you are a victim of this type of crime:

* Contact the police immediately

* Police do not recommend sending money to the suspect

* Prevention is possible – abstain from being intimate online or by not sharing intimate photos online

If you or anyone you know is a victim of this type of crime, contact Richmond RCMP at 604-278-1212. To leave a tip on this crime or any other, please email [email protected] or to remain anonymous, call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).