National tip line warning of new 'sextortion' tactic against youth
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WINNIPEG -- Cybertip.ca, the national tip line for reporting online sexual abuse and exploitation of kids, is warning the public about a “concerning” sextortion tactic that’s being used against youth.
According to Cybertip.ca, the faces of youth are being superimposed onto videos and pictures that make it appear as if they are nude or engaging in a sex act. The tip line says the offender then demands that the youth give them money or gift cards or else they will send the video or photo to the victim’s family and friends.
Stephen Sauer, director of Cybertip.ca, said this is a new tactic and the tip line is trying to get ahead of it.
“We’ve only had a handful of reports so far, but we want to make the public aware that this could happen to them.”
He said youth are much more vulnerable with these new tactics, because, “they don’t actually need to engage in anything with the offender.”
HOW YOU CAN PROTECT YOUR KIDS
Sauer said parents should have conversations with their kids about not answering video calls from unknown people. He added that if the kids are going to answer a video call, they should ensure that the video is turned off so they can verify who is calling them.
Sauer said if a parent finds out that their child has been targeted, they should report it to cybertip.ca or to the police.
“I would say you want to stop all communication. Immediately deactivate the accounts, don’t delete anything, but just ensure that the individuals (are) not able to communicate with the child anymore,” he said.
Sauer added parents should make sure the kids aren’t complying with any of the threats, paying money, or sending any nude images.
Cybertip.ca noted some of the other techniques offenders are using, sometimes in combination with the superimposing tactic, include:
- Offenders following a youth’s family and friends on social media, in order to show they can follow through with the threat if the victim does not comply;
- Offenders creating social media accounts with the victim’s name or a similar name to share the photos or videos; and
- Offenders using filters on certain apps that make them look younger than they are while on live streams.
The tip line noted that people have reported these tactics on the following social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Google Hangout, Skype, Omegle, and Line App.
- With files from CTV's Maralee Caruso.