Police are warning people using dating sites of an online extortion scam being reported to police with increasing frequency.
Detective Sergeant Jim Gotell said men of all ages, using online dating sites, were targeted. The suspects create fake geographical locations to appear close to the victim when they are actually located outside Canada. They then engage in conversation with the victim and refuse to meet the victim in person.
“Men using dating sites connect with a female and enter into conversation with them… he is then invited to video chat with the person he is speaking to… where he will see her disrobing,” explains Gotell. The man is then encouraged to disrobe as well and to “engage in behaviour that would be embarrassing if publicly seen.”
Gotell believes that either the men are watching a pre-recorded video of a female on the other side, or the people involved in extortion may be working alongside women.
The victim is then told that he has been recorded and threatened with release of the video to the victim’s friends and family through social media. This lets detectives believe that the suspects have done online research of the victim through social media sites like Facebook.
The suspects than ask for money in exchange for not sending the video to the victim’s social circle.
Don’t do anything online that, if it were to be made public, you would be embarrassed
Gotell said at least four cases have been reported in the city, but believes there are many more victims in Toronto who have not reported this crime and is encouraging them to do so.
“Don’t do anything online that, if it were to be made public, you would be embarrassed,” cautions Gotell, to others who may be using online video chats to communicate. “You have to assume everything online can be recorded.”
Police are also encouraging people using online social media sites to employ privacy filters to protect their public information. People are encouraged to verify the identity of an internet contact in person before deciding to trust that person.
Once information is shared via a connected device such as smartphone, tablet or computer it is unlikely to be retrieved or erased from the internet.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-1200, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at 222tips.com, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637), or Leave a tip on Facebook. Download the free Crime Stoppers Mobile App on iTunes, Google Play, or Blackberry App World.