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Rise in sextortion scams targeting boys, men prompts warning from New Westminster police

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A spike in sextortion scams targeting boys and men has prompted a warning from police in New Westminster.

The New Westminster Police Department said victims are contacted through various social media platforms by someone typically posing as a female on a fake account.

"They set their location to be somewhere near the victim and ask the victim to send sexually explicit photos, then threaten to release the illicit images unless a ransom is paid," police said in a news release Thursday, adding that demands for money often come from international organized criminal networks.

According to the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, 91 per cent of sextortion victims are male and 79 per cent of sextortion related incidents occurred on Instagram and Snapchat.

Police said New Westminster has seen a rise in sextortion cases over the past couple of years — going from 12 incidents reported in the city in 2021 to 29 cases reported in 2022.

"Victims rarely have any idea what to do. They're in a state of panic and are often dealing with tremendous fear, shame, and significant financial loss," said Sgt. Andrew Leaver. "We believe this is an underreported crime and we're asking anyone who is a victim of sextortion to report it to police."

The NWPD is asking victims to get help instead of complying with the fraudsters or paying money. They also suggest that victims block the person, but not to delete any messages or their social media profile.

Anyone looking to report a sextortion scam can do so by calling investigators at 604-525-5411.

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