A player with the Montreal Impact has been the victim of an extortion attempt.
Last year Michael Salazar was chatting online with a woman when he performed a sexual act on camera — unaware that he was being recorded.
When the soccer club announced Salazar had been signed as a new recruit, they received a demand to pay up or the compromising video would be released.
The Impact informed police and have been working with officers to track down the offender.
Salazar’s is a typical case of sextortion, says cybersecurity expert Terry Cutler, who added that paying up doesn’t always mean it’s over.
“Once the ransom is paid, [the victim expects] the video to be deleted but copies are usually made so if they want to extort them in the future they could,” he explained.
In Canada, the rate of teenage sextortion cases rose 40 percent last year, but anyone could be a victim. Cutler says internet users must understand the moment they send someone a video, they no longer control it.
“They are really putting the trust in the other person that they are keeping it secret,” he said.
Trying to track down extortionists can be a complicated investigation, but if they are caught they could face serious consequences.
“The maximum sentence available is life in prison which puts it at the high end of the scale of crimes,” said criminal lawyer Andrew Barbacki.
Sextortion is becoming more common, which is why the SQ has launched an awareness campaign. They say people who find themselves in the same situation should take screenshots of their conversations and file complaints with their local police station or the SQ.
Salazar wasn’t at practice Friday because he’s been given time off. The club said the situation is deplorable and that it supports Salazar. In a statement, the rookie said the incident has made him more aware of internet safety and that he hopes his experience will help others.
“There are criminals out there who will not hesitate to use the web to cause you harm, and I am victim of this. So if my situation can at least create awareness for this awful problem, then something constructive will have come out of it,” he wrote.