Thousands of boys, young men falling prey to financial sextortion crimes, Canadian report finds
Review of online victim support forum identifies major safety gaps; reveals males primarily targeted through Snapchat, PayPal
For Immediate Release
Winnipeg, Canada — Thousands of young men and boys have been targeted by financial sextortion crimes in 2022 with numbers continuing to climb, a new international report by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P) has found.
An open-source analysis of 6,500+ first-hand accounts shared publicly by sextortion victims on a popular support forum sheds new light into what has quickly become a public safety emergency affecting many Canadians and online users abroad.
Key findings include:
- The primary targets of financial sextortion are nearly always boys and young men, mostly targeted on Instagram and then moved to Snapchat, with payments often made through PayPal;
- Complying with extorters’ demands generally leads to frequent future demands;
- Some platform design characteristics, such as the public display of personal information and social networks, create favourable conditions for predation.
“This is a public safety emergency – we are losing children to this organized attack against them,” says Lianna McDonald, Executive Director of C3P. “Technology companies must be held accountable for the design choices they have made that facilitate harm against their youth users. Technical changes that would protect them are urgently needed.”
C3P is also calling on the need for a Canadian-led international law enforcement sextortion task force. The explosion of sextortion is severely impacting the well-being of Canada’s youth. The perpetrators are organized, relentless, and ruthless – and according to law enforcement around the globe, usually operate from countries such as Nigeria, Cote D’Ivoire and the Philippines.
The findings in this study are consistent with reports from the Canadian public to Cybertip.ca, Canada’s tipline for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children. In 2022, Cybertip.ca saw a 56 percent increase in reports of sextortion over a span of just six months and noted that 77 percent of sextortion incidents reported to the tipline involved the use of Instagram or Snapchat.
To read the full report, visit protectchildren.ca/reddit-sextortion.