Online SEXTORTION Incident Leads to financial loss and embarrassing outcome
Wellington County - Modern technology and the lure of excitement can lead to some embarassing scenarios. It can also lead to financial loss if you fall prey to clever online fraudsters.
This past week, the Wellington County Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) received a report of a sextortion incident. Sextortion is a form of extortion where a blackmailer uses the threat of publishing or sending intimate images or videos to contacts, unless the victim meets their demands.
In this incident, the victim was contacted by an unknown person on Snapchat. The suspect and the victim exchanged intimate images. The suspect then gained access to the victim's Instagram account and threatened to send the intimate images to the victim's friends and family. The victim sent over $500 to the suspect, but when the suspect demanded more money, the victim contacted police.
The OPP would like to remind residents to follow safe internet practices. Do not engage in conversations with strangers and do not share intimate images online.
If something similar should happen to you, immediately stop all communication with the person and do not comply with the threats. Contact police who can provide advice on the next steps to take. Also, keep copies of the messages and information such as the username, social media account etc.
For more information on frauds, you can visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at the link below.
What to do if you have experienced Sextortion:
• Try to remain calm and gather your thoughts. Immediately stop engaging with the person / the account. Do not answer calls from numbers or locations that you do not recognize. Make sure your location is turned off (on your phone, applications, online accounts) and check your account’s privacy settings.
• Secure all of your accounts: change passwords and adjust privacy settings even on platforms you didn’t engage with them on (but don’t delete anything or any account that may help an investigation). Do not accept new followers or friend requests from individuals you do not personally know. Consider if any personal information, identification (e.g., passport, drivers license, student visa, etc.), or credit card or banking information was shared with the person or was listed on any of the platforms you use. It is a good idea to contact your financial institutions to ask that a "flag" to protect you from fraudulent activity be placed on your account(s).
• It is impossible to know how relentless the individual(s) may become. Always take these threats and extortion attempts seriously.
• Do not pay a ransom or provide additional information or materials demanded of you (e.g., they may demand or nicely ask you to send them more videos, photos or other explicit materials, to give them access to your social media account(s) or friends/contacts lists, or to provide them with your banking information, proof of your citizenship, or other government issued documentation, etc.).
• Save all evidence of your interactions (i.e. do not delete your chats before you’ve screen grabbed them, save photos/videos you’ve exchanged) and document the timeline of events on paper or in a Word document while it’s fresh in your mind. Anything and everything you can recall about your time engaging with the individual / the account may prove important for an investigation.
• Contact the police to report. As mentioned above, it is common for individuals impacted by these types of crimes to feel embarrassed or ashamed when sharing details about intimate chats and images they shared with a person they believed they could trust. It is best to be very candid and share and show everything with the police. You are a victim of a crime and you haven’t done anything wrong.
Thank you to Simon Fraser University Campus Public Safety for this list of What-to-Dos