The Saskatchewan Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) Unit has urged parents to talk with their children about the importance of not sharing sensitive images or videos online.
The request comes after an increase in fraud files involving the same scheme were a suspect posing as a youth will convince a real youth to send intimate images or videos of themselves. Afterwards, the suspect will try to extort the victims by threatening to send the images and videos to friends, family and social media contacts.
“This is happening over various apps and games,” reads a statement issued by the ICE unit on Tuesday. “As such, we wanted to advise families.”
Police say the suspects often resident in countries outside of Canada, making it difficult for investigators to bring them to justice, and causing frustration for family members. In some instances, the images stay online and continue to be shared.
“Private images and/or information should not be shared or given out,” reads the statement. “Talk to your family about internet safety rules and keep each other safe.
“Having an intimate image of yourself on the internet is bad enough, but to have someone else control it makes the situation horrendous.”
Anyone with concerns about something they or their children find online can contact their local police service, or submit a tip online at cybertip.ca.
Police say adults can also be victims of similar attacks, but the recent trend shows youth being targeted with these tactics.
Giving out intimate images and videos isn’t the only concern either. Police say youth sometimes gives out usernames, passwords, emails and personal information too often. Suspects can then use the information to set up new accounts under an assumed identity.
Police advise parents have regular conversations about online safety with their children. They also urge parents to monitor their child’s online activities, and work together to establish guidelines around texting, social media, livestreaming and gaming.
For younger children, parents should help them create their login, password, and profile settings ensuring it is set to private. For tween and teens, help set up privacy settings for apps/games/social accounts and work together to decide who to accept as followers/friends.
Children should be able to tell their parents about something they come across online that makes them uncomfortable without getting in trouble.