With the ever-changing online landscape of social media, predators near and far have been using these as tools to sexually extort young boys and girls.
‘Sextortion’ is a form of blackmail in which the predator will convince a victim to send intimate photos to them and threaten to send them to friends and family if their demands are not met.
Oftentimes, these predators create false profiles pretending to be a teen themselves, when in reality, that is not the case.
Saanich police say that the conversations between the predator and minor will usually start out innocent and casual, but will become more aggressive and sexual until the victim is being threatened to have their life ruined.
Offenders will sometimes begin by asking for small amounts of money, but will not stop once they know they can get something out of the victim and their family.
These cases are incredibly difficult for police to investigate because the perpetrator is sometimes in a foreign country such as Eastern Europe or Africa
“We are calling on parents and guardians to be honest with youth about the dangers of online activity, in particular if they are engaging in chats with people they have not met in real life,” said Sgt. Damian Kowalewich, Saanich Police spokesperson.
“By providing this information, we hope to educate youth and their families about the risks of sextortion,”
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According to the latest statistics; over 2300 sextortion reports have been received by Cybertip.ca over the last year. Those stats indicate that 91% of all sextortion reports affected boys who were younger than 18-years-old, 84% of these crimes occurred on Instagram or SnapChat, boys are typically extorted for money while girls are extorted for intimate images.
Saanich Police say they receive numerous sextortion reports every month and the frequency of these crimes have been ever-climbing since 2022.
Sextortion crimes can have serious financial and psychological impacts on victims and police recommend reporting any attempt at these crimes as soon as possible.
Victims of sextortion have in many cases become prone to self-harm and have even taken their own lives in BC after falling victim to an online predator.