Toronto

Toronto police warn of extortion on popular dating sites

Toronto police are warning the public about an alleged online extortion scam in which suspects use fake dating profiles to lure victims into having compromising video chats.

Victims asked to engage in compromising behaviours on video chats

Toronto police are warning the public about an alleged online extortion scam using fake dating profiles to lure victims into compromising video chats.

Police say that suspects are creating fake profiles on common online dating sites. They use other people's photos and use locations to appear close to their target — when they are actually from outside of Canada.

So far, there are four male victims.

When a victim initiates contact or is contacted by the suspects, they engage in what police describe as "age- and social- appropriate social/flirtatious chats." The chats then become sexual, and the suspects suggest the conversation move to video chat.

During the video chats, the victim is encouraged to undress or engage in sexual behaviours, police said. Once the victim engages in compromising behaviour in front of the camera, the video chat will stop. 

The suspects then demand money from the victim and said they would otherwise send the video to the victim’s friends.

The suspects are said to refuse to meet in person or defer the meeting, insisting on video chats. They may also present fake photos or videos claiming to be the person in the profile, police said. 

Only the victims appear in the video chats. The suspects research the victim using social media sites.

'Sextortion'

This type of online extortion has been reported with increasing frequency, police added.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, jointly managed by the RCMP, the Competition Bureau and the Ontario Provincial Police, also warned the public about what it dubs “sextortion.”

Victims are lured into an online relationship through social media or pornographic websites; they are then coerced into performing sexual acts in front of the camera, the CAFC said. 

The victims are then told the event was recorded and, unless money is paid, that the video will be released through various websites like YouTube.

The centre said it is aware of two suicides in Ontario in 2013 directly linked to the extortion scam.

“Some consumers have endured many emotional stresses in their lives and being caught in this scenario can be too much to handle," CAFC said in a bulletin. 

Police encourage dating site users to use privacy filters offered by sites to protect their personal information.

"Everyone is reminded that, whether in social interaction, or commercial buy/sell transactions, they should always verify the identity of an internet contact in person before deciding to trust that person," police said.

"Once information is shared via internet-connected devices such as smartphones, computers and tablets, it is unlikely to be retrieved or erased from the internet."

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-3300. Anonymous tips can be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at www.222tips.com, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637), or Leave A Tip on Facebook

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.