Suspected cyberpredator using Fortnite to target young victims

There have been more cases involving a possible cyberpredator who is using the popular video game Fortnite to target their young victims.

Richelieu-St. Laurent police report four cases so far over the past few weeks following complaints. An investigation is underway.

Spokesman Jean-Luc Tremblay told CJAD 800 that the m.o. is the same: someone using a fake avatar to infiltrate groups of friends playing Fortnite, then offering them a free code to get to a higher level. Once the suspect gains their trust, they ask the victims for intimate pictures of themselves and then blackmail them. 

Similar "sextorsion" cases were reported over the summer in Sherbrooke and the Lanaudière region.

CJAD 800 tech expert Carmi Levy said there have been many examples of this strategy over the past months involving Fortnite, Minecraft and similar games.

"Of course, what kid playing these games doesn't want to have an advantage, for free even, they don't have to pay for it, so they take the bait and once they take the bait, they're hooked and they can get into trouble very easily," said Levy in an interview with CJAD 800.

Tremblay said that the suspect uses Instagram to get the photos.

"Criminals know that kids are using these services almost like water so they're going where they hang out," said Levy.

A letter was sent to parents of the Commission scolaire des patriotes as well as private schools to warn them.

The Riverside School Board told CJAD 800 that with these media reports circulating, they posted general information about such cases on Facebook and their website "to inform our community about the phenomenon."

Longueuil police wouldn't comment, saying the Richelieu-St.Laurent police force is taking the lead on this case. Montreal police said they would not comment because such data is not given out this way.

Levy recommends keeping an eye on your children's online activities and to talk openly about cybersecurity.

"Parents need to have conversations with their kids about sharing information online and how much is too much," said Levy.