Police on South Shore warn of Fortnite sexual extortion scheme targeting teen boys
Published Wednesday, November 7, 2018 11:53AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, November 8, 2018 3:41PM EST
A police force on the South Shore is warning teenagers and parents about an online scam involving a popular video game and sexual predators.
The Richelieu-Saint-Laurent police force said it is investigating at least four cases where teenaged boys were conned into sending people sexually explicit or naked photographs while playing the video game Fortnite.
Sgt. Jean-Luc Tremblay of the Richelieu-Saint-Laurent police department said in each case, the predator used the same tactics.
The first step was creating a fake profile on Instagram and convincing teenagers to be admitted to their group of friends. all exchanges were conducted in French.
Once he made contact, he offered them codes to get access to higher levels of the video game Fortnite.
That turned out to be a tactic to have the teen open up a private chat discussion online, and step by step the predator convinced the teens to send him nude photographs, each time pressuring them to send more by threatening to expose what they had already done.
Police are warning teens that giving in to this type of blackmail never ends, and will not protect the victims from their photos being shared online anyway.
Tremblay said police suspect more victims have yet to come forward.
"We are working swiftly to warn other potential victims, and if there are any victims that wish to reach out, we hope to hear from them," said Tremblay.
Each victim that Richelieu-Saint-Laurent police is aware of is a young male in high school, but the four boys have no connection with each other and don’t attend the same school.
The Commission scolaire des Patriotes and private schools on the South Shore have sent letters to the parents of students advising them about what has happened.
So far police have not located the suspect.
"These are technological crimes, so sometimes it can be complicated before we are able to put our hands on someone. But all our efforts are underway, all the necessary resources will be used in the investigation," said Tremblay.
Online security expert Steve Waterhouse warns that these types of perpetrators are usually skilled at building trust with their victims.
“The technique is called social engineering, so if they're hacking their way in, making the other person believe whatever they want them to believe and extrapolate what the person is really wanting out of that conversation,” he said. “Nobody knows who's behind the keyboard at the other end of a conversation online, that's the exact point.”
Anyone with information can reach out to Richelieu-Saint-Laurent police at 1-888-678-7000.