An extortion incident reported to Norfolk police on Jan. 28 has implications for anyone, especially teens, who spends time on-line.

A 17-year-old male from Norfolk met a 19-year-old female from Nashville Tennessee online and both began to correspond. During the course of conversing, the female asked for explicit photographs of the male which were sent through a video chat. She then made a demand of $5500 dollars in order for the photographs and video not to be distributed to his family and friends.

The supposed female then sent a screenshot which contained a list of the victim’s family and friends on his social media account along with a screenshot of his residence that was taken from a mapping application.

The OPP is concerned about the safety of those involved, and wants to create a greater awareness about the issue and what can be done if a teen finds themselves overwhelmed with the reality of their actions.

There has been a marked increase in the number of reports involving youth sending and requesting sexually explicit images or videos over the internet or text messaging. This is called self-peer exploitation, also known as sexting.

Porn culture is becoming pop culture, and often parents do not know that their kids are involved, and it can be difficult to determine. Parents are encouraged to have honest and frank discussions with their kids about what self-peer exploitation is, and explain that the images can often end up somewhere they may not want them to be. Be prepared to offer them some information about who they can turn to if they need help.

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection is a national charitable organization dedicated to the personal safety of children, with a goal to reduce child victimization. They are a great resource, and have many links to information that is helpful to parents, educators and teens themselves. The Centre also has a tip line to report online sexual exploitation called Cybertip.ca. which is developing and disseminating effective intervention and prevention practices to reach a variety of stakeholders.

“Everyone needs to realize the long and short term dangers of sending out photographs of themselves, says Constable Ed Sanchuk, Norfolk County OPP.

“Those who distribute it also need to be aware of the criminal ramifications of doing so. Once it’s out there, you can’t get it back and you should not be embarrassed to speak to police about your concerns.”

Anyone with information regarding this incident should immediately contact the OPP at 1-888-310 – 1122. Should you wish to remain anonymous, you may call Crime Stoppers at 1 – 800-222-8477 (TIPS) or leave an anonymous online message at www.helpsolvecrime.com where you may be eligible to receive a cash reward of up to $2000.