In recent weeks, the Regina Police Service has received two reports of individuals who have been extorted online.
In both cases, the victims were contacted online by a stranger, requesting to be a Facebook friend. A conversation began between the stranger and the victim as a private message, and it was then suggested to the victim that the pair begin a video chat or image sharing on a different social media platform. During the video chat/image sharing, the conversation turned sexual and the victim was encouraged to expose themselves on camera. After the online sexual encounter, the stranger then tells the victim that the images/video was being recorded and it would be shared with the victim’s friends and family and posted on social media if the victim does not pay.
In both cases reported to the Regina Police Service, the victims did transfer funds to the stranger before reporting to police. Both files are currently under investigation, but it is important to note that fraud investigations are extremely complex and very often do not result in the recovery of money.
Extortion can happen to anyone. Protect yourself from being extorted online:
- Pay attention to red flags.
If someone you recently met online gives you excess attention and flattery, or quickly gets personal and sexual – this should concern you.
- Trust your intuition.
If something doesn’t feel right in an online conversation, it’s usually because you don’t have all the information. Someone could be deceiving you. If it feels wrong – it probably is.
- Be wary of sending nude images or recording/live streaming sexual activities online.
It can be very risky to engage in this activity online. You can easily lose control of what happens to it or who sees it.
- Put a stop to suspicious communication.
If someone is pressuring you online, stop replying. Block the profile. Tell someone you trust.
- Do not send money to strangers.
If you are asked to transfer money (in any amount) to someone you’ve never met, do not follow through with the request. Reach out for help and report the conversation to local police or at www.cybertip.ca.
For more information on online extortion including information, resources and support, visit: https://www.cybertip.ca/app/en/internet_safety-sextortion?utm_campaign=sl&utm_term=/sextortion.
If you, or someone you know, has been the victim of extortion online, please contact the Regina Police Service at 306-777-6500 or call 911 in an emergency.