GRANDE PRAIRIE, A.B. – Grande Prairie RCMP say they are investigating incidents of sextortion.

According to RCMP, they have received three reports of sextortion incidents since the beginning of December, two of which involved youth.

Police say sextortion is a form of exploitation that involves the threat of releasing shared intimate videos, images, or explicit messages online. Victims are typically lured into an online relationship through social media.

As the relationship builds, RCMP say victims are coerced into performing a sexual act on camera or taking intimate photographs. The victim is later advised that the event was recorded and to pay a fee or the video or photo will be released publicly. In some cases, the victim might be asked to send more explicit images.

The reported incidents and social media platforms used may differ, but the results are usually the same – payments were requested to avoid having nude or compromising photos or videos being released publicly to friends and family.

Police say sharing intimate images is never a good idea, as it leaves you vulnerable to being exploited. It may also be an offence depending on the circumstances, especially when young persons are involved.

RCMP ask parents to speak to their teenagers about the personal and legal consequences of sharing intimate images, and offer the following suggestions to protect yourself from sextortion:

If you have been a victim of this type of event, report it to the Grande Prairie RCMP at 780-830-5701 or your local police detachment. If you have information regarding a youth whose intimate pictures or videos have been shared, please visit needhelpnow.ca or Cybertip.ca.