ALERT plays a substantial and important role in the cooperative investigation and intervention of internet child exploitation performed by and affecting Albertans. ALERT’s ICE (Internet Child Exploitation) units are among the most robust and sophisticated police units in the province.
ALERT’s ICE teams investigate a range of criminal offences involving child pornography, any computer-related child sexual abuse, child luring over the internet, voyeurism involving underage victims, and child sex trade/tourism. ICE teams also investigate sextortion involving minors.
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection operates to assist with any internet-based sex crimes involving children. They also facilitate reporting at cybertip.ca. If there is an immediate threat to life or crime in progress, call 911.
Forensic ICE computer exhibits seized during the course of investigations since April 2018 (computers, gaming devices, phones, etc.)
Child Sexual Abuse Material photos/videos processed during the course of ALERT investigations since April 2018
Remember the man in the big white van? These days, stranger danger is online. The man (or woman) is navigating the same online platforms kids are on – the big white van is their phone, computer or gaming device. Regardless of the tactics used to interact and lure online, the individuals targeting youth are criminals. Remember – it’s never the child’s fault for being sexually exploited online.
Receive a new follower, friend, or chat request? It might not be who it looks like. Always be cautious about who you accept into your social media, gaming and chatting circle. Even if it looks like someone you know, criminal offenders can gather enough information to impersonate your friends and friends-of-friends.
If the person you are interacting with sends you nude pictures, videos or sexual content, this is a warning sign. Criminal offenders will use this tactic to incentivize you to send nude or sexual content back to them in return.
Criminal offenders may attempt to move interactions to other platforms. For instance, you could be playing a video game, or receive a new friend/follower. After interaction begins, the offender might try to get you to switch platforms to keep talking with them.
During the impersonated conversation taking place, the offender may flatter or compliment you; make you feel good. They may also make promises or offer you gifts/rewards in exchange for sexual content. ALERT has seen offenders promising video game characters/upgrades in exchange for sexual content.
Have you noticed sudden behaviour changes in your child? Open the table for discussion and check in with them to make sure they are staying safe online.
Has your child taken a sudden or unusual interest in privacy, such as staying in their room more often, hiding their device screens or spending more time privately on their phone, computer or gaming device?
Does your child have new friends online, in person or new devices? This is another flag to watch out for.
Has your child started dressing differently? This can happen when they are interacting with criminals online who seek to sexually extort them either via the internet or when using the internet as means for in person interaction.
Sextortion is blackmail. When someone threatens to send a sexual image/video of you to other people unless you pay them or provide more sexual content, you’ve been sextorted.
Conversations are usually fast paced, and teens are tricked into sending nudes because the criminal imposter themselves sent fake nudes.
Sextortion are most often initiated by a new follow on social media, new friend request, or new chat. Offenders will gather information from social the media profiles of their victims as leverage for extortion.
When offenders proceed with extortion, they typically request an untraceable form of monetary compensation such as online gift cards, or additional sexual images/videos.
77% of sextortion incidents occurred on Snapchat or Instagram. Contact often initiates on Instagram, then moves to Snapchat.
Typically, when boys are sextorted, the criminal offender requests online-transferred money.
Typically, when girls are sextorted, the criminal offender requests more sexual photo/video content.
Typically, sextortion requests for money come from international organized criminal networks.
In youth being sextorted in the past 6 months alone, based on Cybertip.ca data since December 2021.
Online luring is when a person, typically adult (although not always) communicates with someone under 18 through any form of online technology in order to facilitate the commission of a sexual offence.
Children in Alberta are at risk of online luring on any online platform that facilitates communication or interaction. This is especially true of platforms that allow for anonymity or allow for criminals to create fake/impersonated accounts.
Some online platforms may be widely known to parents, such as Instagram or Facebook. Other platforms may be known, but less familiar, such as Snapchat or Discord. Some of the most dangerous platforms are those which parents and caregivers aren’t familiar with in any way. The dangers of these platforms are usually unknown to children and teens when they are interacting on them. Such platforms include (but aren’t limited to) Telegram, Kick, Wickr, and other private P2P (peer-to-peer) chatrooms.
Cybertip.ca luring reports involved victims 14-17 years old, the most common age for victimization.
Cybertip.ca luring incidents happened on Snapchat or Meta platforms (Facebook, Messenger, Instagram).
Cybertip.ca luring incidents happened on Discord, a commonly-used chat room platform.
There are so many different apps, games, and social media platforms available to children and teens that it may seem confusing to stay on top of each one. Luckily, below are resources that allow you to learn about the different platforms and issues in a focused manner which can be tailored to your child’s age or the platforms they use. Some platforms such as Meta, Snapchat, and TikTok also have their own dedicated safety centres.