Sudbury police say they're struggling to keep up with cybercrime in the city — something the chief says all police forces in the world are having difficulty with.
Cybercrime isn't just computer hacking anymore, Paul Pedersen said. The majority of the cybercrime police see now are things like trafficking, theft, and harassment — all done with the use of technology.
Just a few years ago they were seizing desktop computers, but they're now having to solve crimes through people's online profiles and smart phones.
"We've got stalking — which everybody can understand. But we now have harassment coming in the form of texts, in the form of email messages," Pedersen said.
"And where that complicates things for us is the ability to pull that information off of computers, store that data, and then disclose that data."
Police report that one-to-two per cent of all cybercrime in Canada is being reported — and that means it's harder for them to know what they're up against.
"We keep talking about cybercrime as an emerging crime," Pedersen continued.
"But the reality is it's alive and well in all of our communities and certainly here in Sudbury."
Greater Sudbury Police Detective Sergeant Blair Ramsay told CBC News the growth of cybercrime is "the same as everywhere else ... it's growing. It's involved in a lot of crimes."
"We've increased our forensic analysts from two to three," he continued. The team involves two investigators and a victim identification officer.
How is an unknown victim identified from a photo?
"We dig into the image. Work with Adobe. Look at the background of the image, look for clues," Ramsay said.
"You'd be surprised by what you can find."
Common cyber crimes involve identity theft, criminal harassment, threats, child exploitation and drug dealing.
"We have had some cases of people reporting they have been extorted for money," Ramsay said, noting that people on dating websites are being asked to send "compromising" photos of themselves, only to be later blackmailed.
What can people do to protect themselves?
Ramsay said the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has a lot of good safety tips, which can be found here.
"If you think you're being targeted for an online scam, search it [online]," he said.
"If you think you're targeted, generally somebody else has too, and you'll see a lot of results."
Ramsay said tips to keep children safe online can be found at cybertip.ca.
People can also contact local police for more information.