Winnipeg police seeing increase in reports of sextortion schemes

The Winnipeg Police Service has seen an increase in sextortion scheme reports over the past year.

Police explained that this scheme involves a perpetrator using a fake account to solicit a victim on social media. Officers said the schemer may operate outside of Canada and “catfish’ the victim by pretending to be an enticing individual who is young and attractive or who has similar interests.

From there, the perpetrator will create an online relationship based on false trust and emotion. Police note that as the relationship progresses, the victim is encouraged to share intimate images.

Officers said that in some cases, schemers will lurk in chat groups where people willingly post and live-stream sexually explicit material of themselves.

Once the victim shares their intimate images, they are held ransom as the sextortionist threatens to reveal their private life, sexual activity or intimate images if they don’t provide them with payment or sexual services.

Some common payment requests used during blackmail are money transfers and prepaid gift cards.

The Winnipeg Police Service and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection caution everyone, including children and teens, to never share intimate images.

If you or someone you know is receiving sextortion threats, you can ask for help by calling the police non-emergency line at 204-986-6222. Other resources for help include NeedHelpNow.ca and Cybertip.ca.

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