The case of an Edmonton teen who went missing only to turn up in Oregon with a man now facing kidnapping charges has renewed more discussion around how to guard kids against online threats.
The 13-year-old Edmonton girl was found in Oregon on July 2 after she went missing June 24. State law enforcement has since filed kidnapping, rape and sexual abuse charges against a 40-year-old Oregon man accused of luring the teen.
Back in Edmonton, police are preparing to lay luring charges.
The case of the Edmonton teen renewed discussion on how children and parents should safely navigate social media. The director of Canada’s tipline for reporting the online sexual abuse and exploitation of children says there has been a 120 per cent increase in luring reports over the last six months.
Just this week, Fort Saskatchewan RCMP issued a warning about social media extortion after receiving six reports of online extortion since May. In that case, RCMP said suspects are targeting males aged 17 to 25 by initiating fake online relationships, convincing the young men to send intimate images, and then threatening to distribute the images unless they cough up money.
Stephen Sauer, director of Cybertip.ca, said previously the organization was receiving between 60 to 70 reports of luring from the public, and now they are averaging 155 reports per month.
“What we’re seeing a fair bit of, is a subset of luring which would be extortion or ‘sextortion.’ We’ve had a 150 per cent increase in those types of reports in the last six months,” he said. “In the month of June alone, we had 100 reports just related to extortion.”
Typically, cases involve someone contacting an individual, getting them to engage in sexual activity through a live stream or coercing them into sending sexual pictures or videos. As soon as the offenders have the intimate content, the victim is threatened for money.