Police warn that cases of sextortion are on the rise throughout the province.
Peterborough Police have seen an increase in cases this year, especially among young people, including children.
“Grade 6, grade 7 and grade 8 is the biggest trend that we have seen an increase in this year”, const. Lauren Davis tells Global News Peterborough.
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“We as community service officers provide programming to sixth graders about social media and online safety. We’re talking about sextortion specifically. Based on the expressions and responses we receive, even in sixth grade classes, we know that it continues.”
Police say the scammers will contact the victim via social media, online dating sites or even online games and, after asking for intimate images, will threaten to share those images with family, friends or contacts unless the victim pays them a sum of money.
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“Never post intimate images of yourself online, even if you know about them. Protect your passwords. Never send money to anyone online,” added Peterborough County OPP Const. Joe Ayote.
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“Whatever you post can be used against you.”
“If it’s something you’re posting and you don’t want your parents, grandparents or police officers to see it, don’t post it,” Davis said.
Other tips to protect yourself online include: cover webcams when not in use, don’t store images or sensitive information online or on your mobile device, use strong passwords, and make sure security settings for social media accounts are on. activated and configured with maximum privacy. levels
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Cybertip.ca is Canada’s hotline for reporting child sexual abuse and exploitation online.
It is reporting a 150 percent increase in cases this year alone with an average of 57 cases per month. It states that 77 percent of the cases occurred on Instagram or Snapchat.
Police say that while sextortion can happen to anyone of any age, it’s important for parents to have open conversations about it with their children.
“As a parent, please review your child’s privacy settings on all of their social media accounts. Make sure your location settings are turned off. We have noticed that many children, who use Snapchat, have their location set to ‘on’. You do not want that. Only your parents should know where you are,” Davis added.
“Never add anyone to your social media accounts that you don’t know in person. We’ve seen a big trend in young people who have thousands and thousands of contacts on social media and actually only meet 50 to 80 in person.
“If you don’t know who they are, don’t add them.”
If you are contacted by a scammer, or if you have been scammed, you are asked to contact the police or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center at 1-888-495-8501.
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