Investigators are sounding the alarm after more than a dozen people, mostly young men, were targeted by so-called sextortion attempts in Campbell River.
Police say 2022 has proven to be a bad year for the online scam, with 16 reports of sextortion so far compared to zero in 2021.
Sextortion occurs when a scammer lures a target into a fake online relationship in order to gain access to intimate photos.
The suspect then threatens to leak the photos to the victim’s family, friends and place of work unless the victim pays them with money or online gift cards.
Most of the victims this year have been males between the ages of 16 to 30.
Campbell River RCMP are asking families to educate themselves on the disturbing act in order to protect themselves from harm.
“We know that these conversations can be hard, however these targeted behaviours appear to be increasing and we need to have these conversations to ensure we protect ourselves and our loved ones,” said Campbell River RCMP’s Sgt. Chris Voller.
“We live in an age where social media platforms are abundant and since Covid I think we can safely say this social media presence has increased even more.”
Police ask members of the public to avoid sending intimate photos to people on the internet, especially when they don’t know or have just met them.
Potential victims should also be wary of friend requests from unknown people and use privacy settings and filters to limit what information they post on social media.
Anyone who received a sextortion threat should stop communicating with the suspect immediately and not comply with demands for money or additional images. The incident should also be reported to local law enforcement.
More information on how to protect yourself from cyber crimes can be found on Cybertip.ca.