The OPP is warning that the “sextortion scam” is circulating throughout Ontario.
“Recent reports of sextortion involve scammers contacting the victim through social media or online dating sites and threatening to share intimate photos of them to their family, friends and contacts unless the victim pays them a sum of money,” explains Sgt. Erin Cranton, the East Region OPP’s Media Relations Coordinator.
He says the scammer usually asks for the money to be sent through a money transfer service, with cryptocurrencies, and/or gift cards.
Cranton says you can protect yourself by being aware of people who you don’t know that try to get in touch with you online. He suggests using strong passwords and not using the same one for multiple accounts. Cranton adds you should also go through the privacy settings of the social media sites you use and set them to the highest level of protection.
He goes on to say you should never send money to anyone you don’t know and, further to that, never send “compromising pictures” to anyone.
If you do deal with abuse of any kind on social media, Cranton says to report it immediately via the social media platform. He adds that if you have been scammed, call the local police or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) at 1-888-495-8501.
“Sextortion frauds can begin on any social media site, dating site or online game where the context is for people to meet and communicate virtually,” explains Cranton. “The shame, fear and confusion victims feel when they become caught in this cycle often prevents them from coming forward and asking for help.”
According to the CAFC, $17 million in losses were reported in 2021 because of extortion-related frauds.