Burnaby RCMP warn residents after increase in online sextortion scams

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      Burnaby RCMP issued an alert about a spike in sexual extortion, or sextortion, attempts in Metro Vancouver.

      Sextortion refers to a form of blackmail that involves a threat of shared intimate or explicit videos, images, messages, or porn-website usage being released online unless a payment is made, often through Bitcoin or money transfers.

      Burnaby RCMP reported on August 29 that they have investigated 24 sextortion incidents since May.

      RCMP explained in a news release that these attempts usually are presented in two main ways.

      The first involves a victim receiving an unsolicited friend request on social media. The suspect will engage in an online chat with the victim that will involve getting the victim to perform sexual activity on camera, including nudity or masturbation.

      After ending the session, the suspect will claim that they recorded the conversation and will threaten to release the video to the victim's friends on social media unless the victim makes a payment.

      A second situation involves the victim receiving an unsolicited email from someone who claims to have a pornographic video of the victim and threatens to send it to the victim's email contacts unless a payment is made.

      Alternately, the victim may email the victim and threaten to expose the victim's use of porn sites unless a payment is made.

      Police advise anyone who encounters these situations to stop communicating with the individual, to not comply with any threat, to keep all correspondence with the individual, and to contact police immediately.

      The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website has further information about extortion scams.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook