A B.C. police department says it’s seeing a concerning increase in the number of men and young boys being blackmailed into sending scammers money under the threat of having nude photos of them released.
The New Westminster Police Department says it starts with the men and boys being contacted over social media by a fake account, usually posing as a woman. The scammer sets their location to appear near their victims and then ask them to send sexually explicit photos to them.
Once the scammer has those, they threaten to release the photos unless their victim pays them a ransom. Police say the demands for money often come from international criminal networks.
The New Westminster department saw the number of sextortion cases more than double in 2022, from 12 to 29. it says many of those are involving men and young boys.
According to the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, 91 per cent of sextortion victims are male and 79 per cent of incidents occur over Instagram or Snapchat.
New Westminster Sgt. Andrew Leaver says victims often don’t know what to do, and that a large number of sextortion cases likely go unreported for that reason.
“They’re in a state of panic and are often dealing with tremendous fear, shame, and significant financial loss.”
The department is encouraging anyone who is a victim of sextortion to contact police and block the fraudster, but keep any messages for evidence. Victims are also encouraged to speak with someone they trust.