Alarming escalation in sextortion tactics targeting teens
Cybertip.ca is seeing an escalation in tactics being used by offenders to sextort teens. This comes on the heels of the tipline’s most recent alert that warned parents of a 62% increase in reports of teens being sextorted over the past six months, with males, ages 15–17, being a particular focus.
Sextortion and Offenders’ Tactics
We are strongly encouraging parents to openly discuss with their teens the tactics offenders are using to threaten, manipulate and coerce youth into sharing sexual images/videos or sending money. Recent strategies include:
Threats to share the sexual image/video with a school or many schools
After the extorter gets an image(s) or video(s), they say they are going to send it to your teen’s school. They share a screen capture of the school to show they know the school your teen attends. If they do not know the school, they sometimes threaten to send the image or video to schools nearby or to various schools across the country.
Threats to share the sexual image/video with family and friends
After the extorter gets an image(s) or video(s), they say they are going to send them to the teen’s family or friends and show a screen capture of the list of family and friends on your teen’s social media account (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.).
Fake newspaper articles
After the extorter gets an image(s), they create a newspaper article with the image(s) saying they will distribute the article if the teen doesn’t comply with their requests (typically sending money or more images or videos). The article may make false claims about the teen abusing other younger children or about them hurting other people.
Threats to share the sexual image/video newspapers, news outlets and TV stations
After the extorter gets an image(s) or video(s), they threaten to share it with newspapers, news outlets and/or TV stations if money is not paid. They use news outlets many are familiar with in Canada or they may use other international outlets like France24, Wat Tv, National Geographic, etc.
Sugar Daddy scams
A message is sent asking the teen if they want the person to be their “sugar daddy” — the extorter says they will pay the teen money if they send sexual image(s) or video(s). They may make other threats if the teen does not comply with the request.
The extorter sends a message asking if your teen wants a modelling job. The extorter asks your teen to send some images for the job once your teen shows interest. They then ask for more sexual or nude images as they continue to message your teen. They may make other threats if your teen does not comply with sending images.
Start the Discussion with your Teen
While it may be uncomfortable, discussions around intimate images, sextortion, and coercion are urgently needed. Have a conversation about:
- What sextortion is and the tactics offenders are using to get sexual images or videos or money from youth.
- The potential harm this can cause if a person gets naked on live stream. Once you do this, you have no idea what the person you are communicating with may be doing to record and then possibly share the recording of the live stream with others. It can also be used as a weapon to extort for additional sexual images/videos or money.
- How to recognize the red flag behaviours. There are many coercive tactics that can be used to try and manipulate your teen into doing something they don’t want to do. Attention bombing (persistence with staying in close contact) and chat that quickly escalates to being sexual in nature should be viewed as concerning.
- Encourage your teen to come to you or another safe adult if they notice these things. Let them know that you want to know if this happens so that you can help them. Remind your teen that their safety is what is most important to you. If something happens online that makes them feel uncomfortable or scared, they can come to you without fear of getting in trouble.
- Talk to your teen about other resources that are available to help them if they get in over their head such as needhelpnow.ca or Cybertip.ca.
What to do if this is happening to your teen?
If your child has received any message like the ones above or been threatened in any way, have them IMMEDIATELY STOP COMMUNICATING, DO NOT COMPLY and report to Cybertip.ca through the online report form or to your local law enforcement agency.
For more information and resources, visit cybertip.ca/sextortion.