–Media release from the BC RCMP
Are you being pressured to send money to a stranger? Do you now live in fear of having intimate images or videos sent to all your Facebook ‘friends’? Are you feeling pressured to purchase one more gift card to avoid having your WeChat messages exposed? If you are, you are not alone.
There have been 161 reports of sextortion conducted via social media in British Columbia between January 1 and November 15, 2016. Sextortion is a form of exploitation that involves the threat of releasing shared intimate videos, images, or explicit messages online.
Typically, these sextortion cases involve a male victim (usually Asian or South Asian) who receives an unsolicited friend request via Facebook or WeChat from an account that indicates it is from an Asian female. The man engages in conversation with the woman until it becomes intimate. The woman then asks the man to have a private Skype or WeChat session where the man is asked to engage in online sexual activity including nudity and masturbation.
The “woman” then ends the session and tells the victim has been videotaped. The suspect threatens to release the video to the victim’s Facebook friends or post the video to YouTube unless money is sent.
The perpetrators demand money ranging from several hundreds to several thousands of dollars per victim, resulting in a total reported loss of $31,665. These exchanges have occurred on all popular social media platforms. Payments are made via Moneygram, Western Union, or iTunes card payments to either the Philippines or a number of other countries including the Ivory Coast and Nigeria. These incidents can cause great emotional distress to the victims.
These sextortion schemes are complex operations that involve people across culture and nations working together to effectively run a very lucrative transnational organized crime networks.
The reported incidents and social media platforms used may differ, but the results are usually the same –payments were made to avoid having nude or compromising photos or video of sexual acts being released publicly.
Police are asking anyone who have been a victim of sextortion to report it to them so that an investigative assessment can be made. There are a number of investigative avenues available to police to ensure all incidents of sextortion are thoroughly investigated.
Police are also urging the public to consider the following safety tips to ensure they don’t become a victim of sextortion.
- Don’t accept ‘friend’ requests from strangers
- Don’t comply with any threat
- Stop all forms of communication with the individual
- Deactivate all accounts used to communicate with the individual
- Report the incident to police
Sgt. Annie Linteau
District Advisory NCO (Media Relations)
Lower Mainland District
- Sooke RCMP: (250) 642-5241
- RAINN – Rape Abuse & Incest National Network
- Crimes against children – Interpol
Resources for victims
- RCMP Sooke Victim Services (250) 642-5241
- Sooke Crisis & Referral Centre, (250) 642-0215
- Sexual assault centre, Victoria (250) 383-3232
Resources for offenders
- Rehabilitation for sex offenders (Canadian Government article, no actual resources offered)
- FAQs on sex offender treatment
- Sex Offender Help