A Quebec businessman has been caught in an extortion scheme that targets men who engage in online sex, one of seven similar cases under investigation by provincial police.
The business executive, whose prominent company is from the Centre-du-Québec region south and east of Trois-Rivières, started visiting internet chat and dating sites in the hopes of finding a partner for virtual sex.
Then, he and someone he met online "agreed to move to a video site," Sûreté du Québec spokesperson Joyce Kemp said.
Once he was using the site to engage in cyber sex, the extortionists pounced.
"During the act, the victim received a hypertext link on his screen," Kemp said.
When he clicked on the link, it was clear the video feed of him had been recorded.
The scammers threatened to publish the compromising video if the man didn't send payment via a money-transfer website. The footage was even sent to CBC's French-language news service, likely in an attempt to pressure the businessman.
Instead, he went to police. He told Radio-Canada that he handed over his computer to investigators in the hopes they could help limit any damage to his reputation.
5 other men, 1 woman targeted
The Sûreté du Québec said it's looking into six other similar cases, all but one involving male victims aged 20 to 60. The other incident, reported to police Tuesday afternoon in Quebec's Gaspésie region, is the most recent and the first where a woman was targeted.
Computer security expert Christian Vallée said a dose of common sense could have helped to avoid the scam.
"There's no way to protect yourself from being recorded because the recording happens remotely and not on your own computer. You just need common sense: Don't visit websites that you don't know much about," Vallée said.
Ryk Edelstein, CEO at Montreal-based Cicada Security Technology, agreed.
"If you're doing something that could be potentially compromising with somebody at the other end who you don't know, just expect that this may be recorded," Edelstein said.
"If you really suspect that what you're doing is not really the best idea, chances are it isn't the best idea. Use a bit of caution when you going to these sites."