Victoria police encourage members of the community to stay safe with cases of sextortion on the rise – especially with young men.
Concern has risen for this demographic after numbers in sextortion spiked, said Bowen Osoko, a spokesperson for the Victoria Police Department.
Osoko said, “we saw a significant rise in 2022, locally, of sextortion targeting teen boys and young men.”
To put it into perspective, Osoko said that “in 2019, we had five extortion files so that includes all of their extortion and sextortion. In 2022, we had 37 extortion files and 27 of those were sextortion and two-thirds of those were from men.”
So far, the youngest person who has come forward is a 13-year-old boy, Osoko said, adding that many acts of sextortion have taken place online.
Typically, Osoko said, the person planning the sextortion often assumes the online identity of a teen girl or young woman and creates a fake Instagram or Snapchat account.
They connect with the boys through gaming or a light topic they are interested in. Then they use a medium with a chat function and start a “flirtatious” type of conversation. The flirtation is usually quite aggressive. They then make a request for an intimate photo or video from the individual they are talking to. If that image or video is sent then there is usually a switch in behaviour from the person committing sextortion.
Then they would threaten the victim by asking for money usually in some form of bitcoin or e-transfer or else they will share the explicit image or video when friends and family.
“Previously, traditional sextortion was often someone targeting a teen girl or a young woman trying to get them to share intimate images in an effort to get more intimate images of them to take control,” said Osoko. “It’s usually a smaller sexually motivated offense, while with these sextortions, they’re financially motivated and they’re on an expanding scale.”
VicPD encourages victims of sextortion who haven’t spoken up about it, to reach out to a trusted family member, caregiver or friend.
—Ella Matte, contributor