October 05, 2021 August 31, 2021 September 1 2021, Written by Andrea Ringrose, Director, Campus Public Safety and CJ Rowe, Director, SVSPO

Sex + extortion = sextortion

What is sextortion? Sextortion is when someone demands money or sexual favours from another person by threatening to share recordings, pictures or written communication of their sexual activity.

While engaging in sexual behaviour online, through texts or image sharing isn’t everyone’s thing, some people really enjoy it and find it a positive way to connect. Just like almost everything that has to do with sex and intimacy, there are safety issues to keep in mind, like sextortion.

Sextortion often happens when someone you think you know or you would like to get to know better based on their online profile invites you to a casual conversation that turns sexual in nature. Sometimes they may invite you to download software or will ask you to turn your camera on so they can see you.

If you have experienced sextortion please know that it is not your fault. It is common for individuals impacted by these types of crimes to feel embarrassed or ashamed when sharing details about intimate chats and images they shared with a person they believed they could trust. You do not have to do this alone, we are here for you.

What to do if you have experienced sextortion:

  • Try to remain calm and gather your thoughts. Immediately stop engaging with the person / the account. Do not answer calls from numbers or locations that you do not recognize. Make sure your location is turned off (on your phone, applications, online accounts) and check your account’s privacy settings.
  • Secure all of your accounts: change passwords and adjust privacy settings even on platforms you didn’t engage with them on (but don’t delete anything or any account that may help an investigation). Do not accept new followers or friend requests from individuals you do not personally know. Consider if any personal information, identification (e.g., passport, drivers license, student visa, etc.), or credit card or banking information was shared with the person or was listed on any of the platforms you use. It is a good idea to contact your financial institutions to ask that a "flag" to protect you from fraudulent activity be placed on your account(s).
  • It is impossible to know how relentless the individual(s) may become. Always take these threats and extortion attempts seriously and notify the appropriate SFU/FIC offices who can support you (e.g., Campus Public Safety, Sexual Violence Support & Prevention Office, Fraser International College Wellness Office).
  • Do not pay a ransom or provide additional information or materials demanded of you (e.g., they may demand or nicely ask you to send them more videos, photos or other explicit materials, to give them access to your social media account(s) or friends/contacts lists, or to provide them with your banking information, proof of your citizenship, or other government issued documentation, etc.).
  • Save all evidence of your interactions (i.e. do not delete your chats before you’ve screen grabbed them, save photos/videos you’ve exchanged) and document the timeline of events on paper or in a Word document while it’s fresh in your mind. Anything and everything you can recall about your time engaging with the individual / the account may prove important for an investigation.
  • Contact a case manager with SFU’s Sexual Violence Support & Prevention Office. Case managers can help you access campus and community support services, can assist you with academic accommodations, can help you connect with police and law enforcement authorities, and offer ongoing support to you as you navigate the process.
  • Contact the police to report. As mentioned above, it is common for individuals impacted by these types of crimes to feel embarrassed or ashamed when sharing details about intimate chats and images they shared with a person they believed they could trust. It is best to be very candid and share and show everything with the police. You are a victim of a crime and you haven’t done anything wrong.
  • If you are on campus and become concerned for your personal safety, you can contact Campus Public Safety (CPS) 24/7 for immediate attendance (778.782.4500). CPS also provides a SafeWalk service to and from any location on our campuses, or to the nearest transit hub. You may arrange SafeWalk 24/7 by calling 778.782.7991 when you need it. If you believe you are in immediate danger, call 911.
  • Prioritize self-care. SFU/FIC have resources to support your well-being and safety while you’re navigating this during your studies. We’ve included a list of resources below.

SFU & FIC Support Services

Sexual Violence Support & Prevention Office

FIC Wellness Office

Campus Public Safety
Available 24/7

Health & Counselling Services
778.782.4615 (Burnaby)
778.782.5200 (Vancouver & Burnaby)

My SSP (Student Support Program)
24/7 free, confidential counselling support for all SFU and FIC students
1.844.451.9700 or 011.416.380.6578 from outside of North America
Download free “My SSP” App from Apple store or Google Play