SEXtortion IS REAL
and it's happening in alberta more than ever before.
Sextortion is blackmail
Kids and teens live in a dynamic digital environment and need help understanding and navigating potentially dangerous situations in the ever-evolving online world.
ALERT is aware of a new wave of sextortion cases targeting children and teens, usually boys, between the ages of 10 and 17, through social media. Offenders will gather information from social media profiles of their victims as leverage for extortion.
Sending nude photos of videos of yourself may seem harmless, but they can cause harm and end up hurting you if they end up in the wrong hands. This material may:
- Make you a target of people who will force or pressure you into sexual situations;
- Damage your mental health and self-esteem;
- Negatively impact your future education, career and other opportunities;
- Impact the way people see or act around you, and how you see the world.
GIRLS DON'T WANT YOUR NUDES - ONLINE PREDATORS DO
These cases of sextortion happen when someone threatens to send a sexual picture or video of someone to other people – unless they receive some kind of financial payment or provide more sexual content. These conversations can happen quickly and teens are tricked into sending nudes because the criminal imposter themselves sent fake nudes.
Predators navigate the same online platforms and social media sites kids are on – and are connecting with them over their phones, computers or gaming devices.
Sextortion scam offences have inundated our ICE unit and the same can be said for partner agencies across the country and internationally. To help combat this, we’re partnering with colleagues from around the world, including Toronto Police Service, the FBI, and the Australian Federal Police to investigate and disrupt sextortion offences.
These international partnerships proved valuable with the arrest of an Australian-based offender who extorted $1,000 from a Calgary youth. ICE’s investigation traced the recipient of the proceeds of crime and an arrest was made in September 2022.
2,764 Case Intakes in 2021-22
What is Sextortion?
Sexual extortion typically involves a suspect befriending children and teenage victims through social media. The suspect may pose as an acquaintance from a neighbouring school or community group. They create the appearance of a safe online relationship before asking for, or sharing, sexually explicit material from the victim. Once pictures and/or videos have been shared, victims are threatened that this material will be shared with family, friends or online unless some sort of payment is made. Suspects usually demand payment in the form of banking information, credit card numbers or gift cards.
Who is at risk?
ALERT sees children and teens between the ages of 10-17 at risk, though the most vulnerable are boys between the ages of 14-17.
The majority of the offences take place on social media platforms, like Snapchat and Instagram. Some of these social platforms have created their own dedicated safety centres so parents and caregivers can learn more about how each app can be used safely.
Sextortion arrests prove to be challenging as the suspects are often operating overseas. It is not unusual to have multiple suspects across multiple jurisdictions – some doing the extortion, some collecting the cash. Suspects, like many other online scams, are organized and motivated to obtain money in any fashion.
Help - I'm being sextorted
If you or someone you know is being sextorted:
- Immediately stop all communication and take screenshots of the conversation and the profile;
- Do not comply with the threat;
- Report the threat to the social media platform;
- Reach out for help to a trusted adult; and
- Keep the correspondence.
Remember, you are not alone.
ALERT and ICE are here to help. We encourage you to contact your local police as soon as a threat is made. Digital evidence may be time sensitive and can often be deleted.
Get help removing pictures from the internet at NeedHelpNow.ca.
'It's an epidemic': Sextortion and online crimes against youth spike dramatically
In November, our Southern Alberta Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) Team executed a search warrant on a home in Calgary. Officers were after the suspect, as well as the evidence kept on electronic devices, including phones and computers, which were believed to hold child sexual abuse material. This material is also referred to as child pornography.
Global News was invited along as the search warrant was executed and spoke with families of sextortion victims for this exclusive story.
How can i help?
Adults, including parents and caregivers, play an important role in preventing sextortion. Studies show that one in three victims of sextortion never told anyone, largely due to embarrassment or shame. Building trust with kids is a key factor to making sure they get the support they need when things go wrong.
What to watch for
Children and teens should always be cautious about who they accept into their social media, gaming and chatting circle. Criminal offenders can gather enough information to impersonate your friends and friends-of-friends.
If the person your children are interacting with send nude pictures, videos or sexual content, this should be considered a warning sign. Criminal offenders will use this tactic to incentivize children and teens to send nude or sexual content back to them in return.
Criminal offenders may attempt to move online conversations and interactions to other platforms. Children and teens should be wary of receiving a direct message on one platform and being asked to continue the conversation on another.
During the impersonated conversation taking place, the offender may use flattery or compliments to make their victim feel good. They may also make promises or offer gifts and/or rewards in exchange for sexual content. ALERT has seen offenders promising video game characters/upgrades in exchange for sexual content.
for Parents & caregivers
If you notice sudden behaviour changes in your child, open the table for discussion and check in with them to make sure they are staying safe online. Talk about online safety, including privacy, establishing boundaries, healthy relationships and consent.
Watch for signs that your child takes a sudden or unusual interest in privacy. Maybe they’re staying in their room, hiding their device screens or spending more time privately on their phone, computer or gaming devices. Let them know it’s not their fault if someone makes them feel uncomfortable.
Your child may start dressing differently when they begin interacting with criminals online who seek to sexually extort them.
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