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Coquitlam, Port Moody police warn of increase in sextortion schemes targeting teens

Police are warning parents that more youth are being targeted by criminals who demand money and threaten to spread intimate photos online.
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Youth are targeted by criminals in money-motivated sextortion cases, especially through specific social media apps. | File photo

Speak up.

That's the message from a School District 43 (SD43) statement sent to parents this week alerting them, and their children, of a recent increase in reported sextortion cases.

Port Moody police (PMPD) spokesperson Const. Sam Zacharias confirmed to the Tri-City News that "several" cases are still being actively investigated by its Major Crime Section.

In a release, Coquitlam RCMP's Cpl. Alexa Hodgins said — per Cybertip!ca — there was a 150 per cent increase in youth of all genders being sextorted between December 2021 and May 2022.

Between March and August last year, Cybertip!ca said there was also a 56 per cent uptick in related cases across Canada, with perpetrators of the schemes targeting teens for money..

"The suspects rely on the fear and shame in order to extort anything they can from the victim who may be too afraid to seek help," said Hodgins.

She noted those involved are "highly-sophisticated and well-organized criminals" who could be communicating from anywhere in the world, making it harder to investigate and prosecute.

"When youth are involved, they are often too afraid to speak to their parents and attempt to deal with the extortion themselves. We want those victims to know that it's okay to ask for help by speaking with an adult."

What is sextortion?

Sextortion is a form of blackmail that occurs online and via several social media apps — popularly conducted through Instagram and Snapchat, according to Cybertip!ca.

A suspect picks its victim, commonly a youth between 12 and 18 years old, and attempts to connect and flirt in hopes of lowering their guard and gaining their trust.

Once a "relationship" is formed, they try to convince the victim to engage in sexually explicit activities like sharing nude images or video.

And if successful, the suspect then threatens to distribute the content to family and friends unless the victim pays them.

Cybertip!ca explained male victims are often told to send more money, while female victims are extorted for more intimate photos.

"These extortion files are on the rise and we are urging the public to exercise extreme caution in their online activity," Zacharias added.

"Never share any personal information or images online, even if it is someone you may know."

Statistics Canada research showed, in 2020, there were 131 incidents per 100,000 children and youth exploited and abused online compared to 50 per 100,000 in 2014.

Three out of four victims in that same span were girls aged 12 to 17.

Local examples

In December 2022, charges were approved against an Abbotsford man for reportedly sextorting a Port Moody girl.

Jesse Toews is facing child pornography-related offences after the young woman contacted PMPD in October 2021, claiming a suspect obtained "intimate images" of her and threatened to share them unless she sent more.

Investigators commended the victim for speaking up as the case uncovered other alleged potential victims and compromised data.

In October, Aydin Coban was sentenced to 13 years in jail when he was convicted on sextortion-related charges a decade after 15-year-old Port Coquitlam resident Amanda Todd killed herself.

The 44-year-old Dutch national cyberbullied Todd for two years before she posted a viral YouTube video of her struggles and self-harm. She took her own life a month later.

The nine-week trial in New Westminster Law Courts resulted in conviction on five charges against Coban:

  • extortion
  • importing and distributing child pornography
  • possession of child pornography
  • communicating with the intent to lure a child
  • criminal harassment

The judge called Coban’s actions "callous," "deliberate" and "with complete utter disregard for the harm of Amanda Todd."

What can parents and kids do?

Police and SD43 officials are strongly encouraging everyone to never post nude, intimate or sensitive photos of themselves online, including social media.

Hodgins and Zacharias said parents and guardians should "closely monitor" their kids' social media activity, and for kids to never send money online — even if it's to somebody they know.

"If you have been a victim or suspect someone may be trying to extort you, contact your local police," Coquitlam RCMP stated.

Both Mounties and PMPD have youth services divisions that provide support to teens and kids who believe they're victims of crime.

Other tips are as follows:


  • Be open about online behaviour
    • Place computers in busy family areas, work with your child to ensure that they behave safety online from a young age and teach your child to treat life online as they would their regular life.
  • Monitor your children’s online activities regularly
    • Search your child's name using popular search engines, blogs and social network platforms to see what comes up on their public record.
  • Know the apps
    • Some social media apps are not suitable for all children. Many applications have age limits in order to download. It’s important to keep this in mind.


  • Think before you share
    • It is difficult to remove information once it's shared. Even though a smartphone app may advertise what you send will disappear in a few seconds, content can still be screen captured to make it last forever.
  • Be socially responsible
    • Speak up and do the right thing. If you see something you don't agree with, like cyberbullying, harassment or threats, tell a trusted adult for advice or help.
  • It's not your fault
    • If you have disclosed an intimate image, nude photo or video and it was shared without your consent, tell a trusted adult who can help you.
    • As well, please contact your local police agency as cops investigate without judgement.
  • Protect your privacy online
    • Only accept friend requests from people you know, only share images that you would be okay sharing with your parents and never send an intimate photo or video, if asked.

- with files from Janis Cleugh, Tri-City News

If you believe you are a victim or suspect someone may be trying to extort you, contact your local police immediately.

Information, research and other useful links to considering visiting: