The number of sextortion complaints has risen sharply since April, according to the Gatineau Police Service (SPVG).
“It is possible that the containment measures surrounding COVID-19 played an indirect role in the increase in the number of cases since, people being confined, they spend more time on social networks and are therefore more at risk. In addition, this leads single people to turn more to dating sites and virtual meetings, “the police said on Wednesday to explain the resurgence of this phenomenon.
This Outaouais police force therefore wants to alert the population against this crime which consists of blackmail and extortion on the part of fraudsters with images or videos of a sexual nature often taken without the victims’ knowledge.
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The people targeted by this scheme are tricked into meeting someone online, on social networks or on dating sites.
“The conversation is transported by mutual agreement to another platform giving access to a webcam. In several cases reported to the SPVG, it is the Hangouts platform that is used, ”Gatineau police said.
“Cyber predators, who are often abroad, have become masters in the art of quickly convincing people to commit intimate acts in front of a webcam,” added the police.
These images are recorded without necessarily the victim being aware. It is then too late. The fraudster threatens to publish them on the internet if the trapped person does not give him gift cards or virtual currencies such as Bitcoin.
The criminals will for example say that they will publish these photos by mentioning that the victim is a pedophile. They can also claim that these acts were committed in front of children and that the police will be alerted. The bandits sometimes resort to bogus letters from Interpol, the national police of Côte d’Ivoire or other police organizations for the extortion plan.
The Gatineau police therefore recommend never making compromising videos on the internet, to be wary of quick meetings or if the interlocutor finds excuses not to discuss with the microphone of his computer. She also asks never to reveal her banking or financial information. Finally, it is better to contact the police in the event of a sextortion.