The New-Brunswick RCMP is reporting an increase in financially-motivated online sextortion scams across the province.
Financial sextortion is a form of blackmail that involves someone online threatening to send sexual images or videos of a person to other people, such as the family and friends, if they are not paid.
With the growing popularity of social media, occurrences of online sextortion have increased significantly in the last few years. The New Brunswick RCMP have received 66 reports of online sextortion since 2023, 23 of which were reported since January 2024. Police are now hoping to bring more awareness to this crime by educating the public.
While everyone is at risk of financial sextortion, recent findings suggest that young males appear to be more vulnerable to this type of crime.
"The most common method used by the offenders is a friend request on a social media platform, then the conversations move into a private chat, and once a rapport and trust have been established, it is followed by a request for intimate images. The extortion takes place when the scammer threatens to share the photos with family and friends unless money is sent", says Cpl. Hans Ouellette with the New Brunswick RCMP.
It is important that people do not pay any money, and block the individual as soon as possible. Reporting these crimes can put an end to the blackmailing and can help the RCMP track down the individuals responsible.
"The best advice I can give if this happens to you is to deactivate, but do not delete your social media account or images, save a copy of any images you sent, take screenshots of the messages and the person's profile including their username, and report it to police", added Cpl. Hans Ouellette. "Trust your instincts, practice caution when communicating online, and don't be too embarrassed to ask for help. I want to give hope to anyone facing this difficult situation by telling them that this is not permanent; tools exist to take down these images."
If you have been affected by online sextortion, please contact your local police. If you have information that could help, contact your local police, or Crime Stoppers to remain anonymous, at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), by downloading the secure P3 Mobile App, or by Secure Web Tips at www.crimenb.ca.
Even though online sextortion is committed virtually, it can have serious impacts offline. After the threats and aggression, people can feel alone, ashamed, scared, and sometimes desperate. It is important to remind people affected by this that they are not alone and this has happened to others.
For more information on how to protect yourself and your children online, please visit the following links: