Police say that suspects are creating fake profiles on common online dating sites. They use other people's photos and use locations to appear close to their target — when they are actually from outside of Canada.
So far, there are four male victims.
When a victim initiates contact or is contacted by the suspects, they engage in what police describe as "age- and social- appropriate social/flirtatious chats." The chats then become sexual.
The suspects suggest the conversation move to video chat.
During the video chats, the victim is encouraged to undress or engage in sexual behaviours, police said. Once the victim engages in compromising behaviour in front of the camera, the video chat will stop.
The suspects then demand money from the victim and said they would otherwise send the video to the victim’s friends.
The suspects are said to refuse to meet in person or defer the meeting, insisting on video chats. They may also present fake photos or videos claiming to be the person in the profile, police said.
Only the victims appear in the video chats. The suspects research the victim using social media sites.
This type of scam has been reported with increasing frequency, police added. Police encourage dating site users to use privacy filters offered by sites to protect their personal information.
"Everyone is reminded that, whether in social interaction, or commercial buy/sell transactions, they should always verify the identity of an internet contact in person before deciding to trust that person," police said.
"Once information is shared via internet-connected devices such as smartphones, computers and tablets, it is unlikely to be retrieved or erased from the internet."
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-3300. Anonymous tips can be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at www.222tips.com, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637), or Leave A Tip on Facebook.