Calgary has recorded 50 cases of child “sextortion” in the last two months: ICE

Alberta’s Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) Unit says Calgary has seen an increasing number of what police call “sextortion” cases.

S. Sgt. Dominic Mayhew with ICE tells CityNews there have been 50 reported cases in Calgary and the surrounding area in the last two months.

The scam usually targets boys aged 12 to 17-years-old through apps like Snapchat and Instagram. Victims usually receive a friend request from what appears to be an attractive young woman who is looking to meet. The scammers typically progress the online relationship to a point where they start asking for intimate pictures of the victims, and then blackmail them for money using those photos.

Mayhew says this type of criminal activity has catastrophic effects on teenagers’ mental health. In Manitoba, a 17-year-old boy took his own life after becoming the victim of a similar scam.

“I would encourage all youth — whether its a parent, community elder, a trusted adult — you need to be able speak to somebody who can provide you some context, some experience, and some next steps; those might be counselling options, or other options,” said Mayhew.

Mayhew adds police are able to offer some advice to children and families on those next steps.

“Most parents are upset and shocked, and they would never think that this is a crime that can happen to their child within their home,” Mayhew said. “As we realize kids are connected to the internet and social media at a very young age these days, and while that provides a great opportunity to connect with friends and loved ones, it also provides an opportunity for motivated offenders.”

Mayhew says parents need to be aware of the risks of the internet and be able to monitor their kid’s use of the internet.

“There are sites online that help you understand the risks associated with each particular application, and even just doing some research and being aware and informed about some of the risks that those companies can provide is a good step forward,” Mayhew said.

READ MORE: ‘World lost a good person:’ Parents warn of global sextortion targeting teens

Mayhew says although scammers usually try to hide their identity, police are still able to identify them. He added there have been arrests on a weekly basis in Calgary and across the province and offenders can be located anywhere in the world.

Parents looking for tips to help their children are encouraged to visit

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