(File photo)

RCMP are issuing a warning that ‘sextortionists’ are increasingly targeting young men in the Campbell River area, after more than a dozen people were targeted.

Young people are increasingly being targeted by internet blackmailers who are tricking them into sending sexually explicit photos and videos and then extorting them.

According to Campbell River RCMP, there were no sextortion cases reported in 2021, however, so far, 2022 has seen 16 reports of sextortion with most of the victims being male between the ages of 16 to 30.

Often called sextortion, the social media scam starts when suspects initiate and lure their targets into a fake online relationship, convincing them to send intimate photos or videos of themselves.

The suspect then states they will distribute the sensitive materials to the victim’s family, friends, and co-workers unless they are paid in money or online gift card credits.

Campbell River RCMP are asking families to educate themselves on the disturbing act in order to protect themselves from harm.

“We know that these conversations can be hard, however these targeted behaviours appear to be increasing and we need to have these conversations to ensure we protect ourselves and our loved ones,” said Campbell River RCMP’s Sgt. Chris Voller.

RCMP are urging people to avoid sending intimate photos to people on the internet, especially when they don’t know or have just met them.

“We live in an age where social media platforms are abundant and since Covid I think we can safely say this social media presence has increased even more.”

RCMP provided several tips including being wary of friend requests from unknown people and use privacy settings and filters to limit what information they post on social media.

Anyone who received a sextortion threat should stop communicating with the suspect immediately and not comply with demands for money or additional images.

The incident should also be reported to local law enforcement.

For more information on how to protect yourself from cyber crimes, visit Cybertip.ca.

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