A serial “sextortionist” is targeting Montreal-area teenagers through the game “Fortnite,” according to a Quebec police force.
The Richelieu-Saint-Laurent police force say they’re investigating at least four instances where teenagers were scammed online, after being pushed to send sexually explicit or compromising photos to a user they met through the popular online multiplayer game.
Sgt. Jean-Luc Tremblay told CTV Montreal that in each case, the investigation has found that the predator utilized the same tactic.
The scammer would create a fake Instagram profile and attempt to integrate themselves with groups of friends playing the game.
Once contact was made, they would then offer the victim a code to help them reach a higher level in the game.
But that would turn out to just be a tactic to isolate the potential victim, engaging them in private conversations.
Over time, the scammer pushed the victims to send photographs, blackmailing them for more explicit images and money by threatening to release photos they had already sent.
In a news release, police warned teens to never give in to this type of blackmail because paying will not protect the victims.
Police say making a payment may embolden the blackmailer to demand more in the future, or simply release the photos online regardless.
Investigators say that they have not identified the suspect, adding that it may take some time to due to the nature of the crime.
“These are technological crimes so sometimes it can be complicated before we are able to put our hands on someone,” Tremblay said. “But all our efforts are underway, all the necessary resources will be used in the investigation.”
The victims, all young males in high school, have no connection to each other besides the game, according to Tremblay.
Police believe there may be several more victims that have not yet come forward.
With a report from CTV Montreal’s Stephane Giroux