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Grande Prairie RCMP warn residents of social media extortion reports

After several recent reports of extortion online, the Grande Prairie RCMP is warning residents to make good decisions when dealing with those they connect with on social media.

Sgt. Shawn Graham says recent reports indicate in some cases, the potential victim was approached, whether it was through a friend request or other messages through Facebook, Snapchat, or online dating applications. It then moved into direct messaging, where the trouble began.

“The victims then sent nude images, and the suspect then subsequently made demands the victim send money or their images will get sent out to their contacts, friends, and family,” he says.

Graham says the reported extortion attempts went beyond just the intended victim, as scammers, in this case, tend to involve a wider social net, which can then further their cause. He says even if they offer up several ways to chat, including live video streams, scammers can mask their true identity to help get the scam over the finish line.

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“It’s common for offenders to follow victims’ friends on social media platforms to demonstrate they can follow through with their demand if the victim doesn’t comply,” he says.

“People need to be aware that offenders can use filters on certain apps that allow them to appear younger than they are on images and live streams.”

Graham says the best way to keep yourself out of harm’s way is to avoid potentially precarious situations, to begin with, including not accepting random friend requests and not sending private images over social media.

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