Eastern Region OPP warns of sextortion scam

The Ontario Provincial Police would like to warn the public about sextortion scams circulating in the Eastern Region and across Ontario.

Recent reports of sextortion involve scammers contacting the victim via social media or online dating sites and threatening to share intimate photos of themselves with family, friends and contacts unless the victim pays them a sum of money.

The scammer often requests that the funds be sent via a money transfer service, cryptocurrencies and/or gift cards. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center (CAFC), extortion fraud accounted for $17 million in reported losses in 2021 and more than $16.4 million in 2020.

Sextortion scams can start on any social media site, dating site, or online game where the context is for people to meet and communicate virtually. The shame, fear and confusion victims feel when caught in this cycle often prevent them from coming forward and seeking help.

How can you protect yourself?

• Beware of strangers trying to communicate with you via the Internet

• Never send money to people you don’t know

• Never send compromising photos to anyone, regardless of who that person is.

• Cover web cameras when not in use

• Do not store sensitive/intimate images or information online or on your mobile device

• Use strong passwords and do not use the same password for multiple social media accounts/sites

• Ensure social media account security settings are enabled and set to the highest level of privacy protection

• Report abuse to various social media platforms, to ensure that scammers are held accountable and to avoid further victims.

If a scammer contacts you or if you have been the victim of fraud, contact your local police department or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center at 1-888-495-8501 or visit their website at www.antifraudcentre.ca.

Mental health services are available to everyone across the province. Contact Connex Ontario at 1-866-531-2600 or online at http://www.connexontario.ca/ for resources and information.

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