Gatineau police are warning they have seen a rise of online “sextortion” cases since the beginning of April.
Most of the scams involve victims’ receiving an invitation to chat on social networks or dating sites. The conversation is then transported to a platform allowing the use of a webcam, most often Facebook’s Hangouts platform.
“The seduction continues, eventually leading people to show themselves naked and perform sexual acts,” police said. While the victim believes they are interacting with a real person, it is most often a video played in front of a webcam, police said.
Any sexual acts are recorded by the predator who then uses them to ask the victim for money to be paid in gift cards or virtual currency such as Bitcoin.
“It is possible that the containment measures surrounding COVID-19 played an indirect role in the increase in the number of cases,” police said.
People have been spending more time on social networks and are therefore more at risk.
Gatineau police spokesperson Const. Andrée East said the force has received about 20 cases involving “sextortion” since April, compared with 30 cases in all of 2019.
Police urged any victims to contact police at 819-243-2346.