The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP has issued a public warning of an increase in reported incidents of “sextortion” online scams.
Reports of these online scams increased by 163 per cent in the North Cowichan/Duncan area last year.
“Details revealed in the death of Amanda Todd highlight the enormous impact of online abuse on mental health,” Cpl said. Jennifer Morgan, North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP General Investigations Section.
It works by scammers creating fake social media accounts on platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat in order to “befriend” victims.
Scammers then convince victims who may think they are fostering intimacy to send nude or sensitive images or videos of themselves.
Once these images or videos are received, blackmailers demand money from victims and threaten to send compromising material to friends, family or the public.
These sextortion scams can have long-term mental health effects, and victims can experience fear and shame.
The victims are mainly male, and 25% are young people.
Investigating and prosecuting these online crimes is difficult because scammers often use technology to protect their identities and may not even live in Canada.
Police encourage the public to use safe social media practices and refrain from sharing nudity or personally sensitive images and videos.
Parents or guardians should closely monitor their children’s social media.
“Social media awareness will prevent online scammers from further harming our communities. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Morgan said.