There's more to online dating than just swiping left or right. Surrey RCMP is warning British Columbians that an increasing number of people are getting blackmailed over "sexual images." In the last three months, there have been 77 Surrey extortion cases over nude images.
In a news release, RCMP said that most of these reports "involve threats to expose a sexual image of the victim to other people if the victim does not pay money or provide more sexual content."
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While not all of these nude images are shared through online dating platforms or social media, police said that this is the case for many of the files.
People reportedly shared images and videos thinking that these interactions were part of a "mutual relationship." But the photos and videos were later used for blackmail.
As far as the incidents that were reported, the average ages of victims range between 18 and 29. The "number of male and female victims were evenly split," said the release.
When you are considering sending someone else a nude photo or video, ask yourself if you are comfortable letting go of your control over those images, Staff Sergeant Lyndsay O’Ruairc, Special Victim’s Unit Commander, said in the statement.
While it's illegal to distribute nude photos without consent, the ramifications for the victim can be quite severe.
On top of the usual nude extortion cases, B.C. residents have also been receiving "scam emails" that say that their computer has been hacked.
Scammers reportedly tell the victims to pay up with money or Bitcoin or else they will release "nude or sexually explicit" videos of the victims.
"In these cases, there was no proof of photos or videos or other information being obtained from the victims’ computers," said the police.
To avoid getting in such tricky situations, local RCMP said you should do a couple of things. First, "be cautious" when considering sending nudes to anyone.
Secondly, disable your computer's webcam if you aren't using it.
Finally, create difficult, hard-to-guess passwords for your accounts and change them frequently.
All and all, it's important to be aware of your surroundings and your rights.
Earlier this year, there were reports that "hundreds" of B.C. women were getting their photos illegally taken and sold without their knowledge or consent.