March is Fraud Awareness Month, and the Brantford Police Service are working to increase awareness of various scams impacting members of the community.
“We are issuing a public warning regarding the exchange of intimate photos or engaging in intimate encounters online after recently receiving several reports of sextortion,” said the Brantford Police Service (BPS).
Sexting material can be used to exploit, bully and blackmail individuals. Sexting is when an individual sends a sexually explicit photo, video, or message to another person by phone or computer. Sextortion is when someone threatens to send your sexually explicit photo, video, or message to other individuals if you do not provide them with more sexual content or financial compensation.
It is illegal for an adult to distribute any intimate image of another adult without that person’s consent. Sharing a sexually explicit image of a child is always illegal.
Often, sextortion cases remain unreported due to the sensitive nature of the images and the victim may often be too embarrassed to file a report. Youth may also be hesitant to seek adult assistance and will often comply with threats to try and manage the situation on their own.
Parents/guardians are encouraged to have conversations with their children about the risks associated with using technology to experiment sexually and the potential risk of blackmail/extortion. Parents should also talk with their children about deleting and blocking unsolicited messages or communications from unknown persons online, as well as being careful who they add to social media.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are being extorted:
- Immediately stop all communication. Deactivate (but do not delete) any of the accounts you are using to communicate with the individual.
- For youth – Ask a parent or guardian for assistance.
- DO NOT comply with the threat. In other words, never pay money and never send additional photos. The situation will NOT get better by doing either of these things. If money has been paid, check to see if it has been collected and, if not, quickly cancel the payment.
- Keep the correspondence. Keep information such as the person’s username(s), social media account information, a copy of the communications, along with any images and/or videos that were sent.
More information regarding sextortion and sexting, including downloadable resources for parents, is available at www.cybertip.ca.
Other resources for youth:
- CMHA Distress Line – 403-327-7905 or toll free 1-888-787-2880
- Kids Help Line – 1-800-668-6868
- AHS Mental Health Helpline (24 hours) – 1-877-303-2642
Anybody who believes they have been a victim of sexual exploitation, can report it to the Brantford Police Service 519-756-7050 or, call 911 if in an emergency. Anonymous tips may also be provided to Brant-Brantford Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at https://www.crimestoppersbb.com/submit-a-tip/