A public warning has been issued by the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP this week after they’ve said ‘sextortion’ cyber scams are becoming an issue for the area.
Police say the scammers are creating fake social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to get close with their victims.
The scammers will then convince their victims to send nude photos or sensitive images and videos.
According to police, once the scammer obtains these sensitive images and videos, they will demand money from their victims by threatening to share the photos/videos with family, friends and the public.
Police warn that victims of this scam will feel fear and shame that may have long lasting effects on their mental health.
North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP say these reports in their jurisdiction have increased by 163%.
Victims of these crimes are predominantly male and 25% of the victims who have reported are youths.
Police say that investigating and prosecuting these offences are difficult as the perpetrators often have techniques to hide their identity. Oftentimes they don’t even live in Canada.
Police believe the best way to combat these kinds of scams is awareness and safe social media practices.
Parents and guardians are encouraged to have conversations with their children and to closely monitor their social media usage.
“The details revealed in the case of Amanda Todd’s death highlight the tremendous impact online abuse can have on mental health,” said Cpl. Jennifer Morgan of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP General Investigation Section.
“Social media awareness will prevent further victimization of our community by online scammers. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Amanda Todd was a 15-year-old British Columbian girl who hanged herself as a result of similar crimes in 2012.
The man who blackmailed her was a Turkish man who was imprisoned in the Netherlands for similar crimes. He was extradited to Canada and sentenced to 13 years in prison for his crimes in October, 2022.
Anyone who has been a victim of this crime is encouraged to report it to the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP by calling 250-748-5522.