An RCMP vehicle. (Healey photo)

LOWER SACKVILLE: The Nova Scotia RCMP provincial Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) Unit is warning the public about a new sextortion scam.

In recent months, the RCMP has received a large number of money-motivated sextortion reports where boys and girls are being targeted.

In these incidents, a suspect often begins a flirtatious online relationship with the victim.

Once the relationship has been established, the suspect convinces the victim to engage in sexually explicit activity, such as sending nude photos or videos of themselves. Once received, the suspect threatens to distribute the photos or videos to the victim’s family and friends unless payment is received. 

“These highly-sophisticated and well-organized criminals use the nude images or video to threaten, intimidate and coerce the victim, most often a child or youth, into sending them cash or gift cards,” says Cpl. Mark Sobieraj of the RCMP ICE Unit “They rely on fear and shame to extort anything they can from a child who may be too afraid to go to a parent for help.”

“Unfortunately, police around the world have tragically seen some of these incidents end in victims taking their own lives. We’re urging parents and guardians to talk with children about the potential dangers, emphasizing that they can come to you for help.”

Children and guardians are urged to protect themselves from falling victim to such scams. Steps families can take include:

  • Not accepting social media friend requests from strangers
  • Avoid sharing intimate images and videos online
  • Talk about how you would handle such a situation
  • Go to NeedHelpNow.ca for resources

If your child has been targeted, please:

  • Report it to your nearest RCMP detachment or local police.
  • Immediately stop all communication with the suspect.
  • Ensure that you and/or your child do not comply with the threat.
  • Keep any correspondence between you or your child and the suspect.
  • Remember that you are not alone; there is help.

The RCMP would also like to remind members of the public that they’re able to report child exploitation online and seek support at www.cybertip.ca.

The Cybertip website also allows people to subscribe to alerts, which include notifications of new trends and safety tips for communicating with others online.