Date: Monday, January 20, 2023
Files: 22-36465, 22-40628
Victoria, BC – Parents and other caregivers are asked to be vigilant in their children’s online activity as officers continue to investigate a disturbing rise in online sexual extortion – sextortion – primarily targeting teen boys and young men. Recent files have included boys as young as 13 and 14 years old being targeted in Victoria and Esquimalt.
Sextortion is a sophisticated cybercrime in which perpetrators often contact a victim through an online forum, including social media like Instagram and Snapchat. Targeting teen boys and young men, the perpetrators often pose as teen girls or young women who claim to be interested in a sexual relationship with their potential victim. They then request intimate photos and videos of the boys or young men. Once they have received these images or videos, they then threaten to share the videos or photos with the teen boy or young man’s family, friends, school community and/or employer, attempting to shame their target into handing over money.
While teen girls and young women are also targeted in sextortion files, two-thirds of the 27 sextortion files that VicPD investigated in 2022 target teen boys or young men. The Canadian Centre for Child Protection saw a similar increase in sextortion files last year, with 92 per cent involving teen boys or young men. Investigators believe many more sextortion incidents have occurred which have not yet been reported to police.
“The psychological and social impacts on teens and young men and women who are preyed on in sextortion is often significant,” Chief Del Manak said. “Sextortion is a crime. I know it can feel awkward or uncomfortable, but talking to a trusted adult, whether a parent, teacher or a VicPD officer about what you’re experiencing can be the first step in stopping it.”
How to help protect your children
It is important to recognize that sextortion of teen boys and young men is a sophisticated crime. Please talk with your teens about how to stay safe during online interactions. Let them know that:
- Sextortion is targeting teen boys and young men both in Victoria and Esquimalt, and across Canada in rising, significant numbers;
- The professional cybercriminals who engage in sextortion are skilled at deception and manipulation;
- If you are experiencing sextortion, talking with a trusted adult will help;
- Sextortion is a crime. Officers will listen to your story and will not judge you;
- Never comply with the threat – it often makes the situation worse and leads to additional demands.
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection has created a website that contains excellent resources to help parents, educators, investigators and peers. Please visit dontgetsextorted.ca for more information.
“Don’t get sextorted” video produced by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.
We want survivors of sexualized violence, including sextortion, to know that we believe you. For information on supports including information on how to report sexualized violence, please visit VicPD.ca/webelieveyou.
We’re seeking qualified candidates for both police officer and civilian positions. Thinking about a career in public service? Join VicPD and help us make Victoria and Esquimalt a safer community together.