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Mother from New Brunswick speaks out about her son’s death being connected to sextortion

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William Doiron was a vibrant, hardworking worker who took a great pride in his small Acadian Peninsula community in New Brunswick. The young man was a referee, an aspiring carpenter, and a competitive hockey player. William was a content 16-year-old, according to his mother Stéphanie Thériault, until he started messaging a person he believed to be a young woman on Snapchat.

“Everyone knew him. He was a ball of energy”. Thériault remarked in French.

After his sister’s hockey game on October 29, 2022, William’s family discovered he had committed suicide when they got home to Saint-Léolin. They eventually found out he had been persuaded into sending explicit photos of himself via a worldwide sextortion operation, after which he was blackmailed.

In this little town next to Caraquet, Thériault said, many people miss her son, including his two brothers, classmates, teammates, coworkers, and those he assisted.

“He was involved in everything. He looked out for the kids at his school. Even on the bus, there was a friend that was getting bullied and it was William that helped him,” she stated.

William’s funeral was attended by almost 500 people, some of whom Thériault reported were forced to remain outside due to the packed church.

William was a dedicated worker with a sense of enterprise. When he was fourteen, he purchased a snow blower to clear driveways while working in a haskap berry farm. He also had a part-time job at Maisons Supreme in Tracadie, where he built mini-houses in preparation for his eventual career as a professional carpenter.

“The days that they had snow days at school, he went to work with the neighbour. He worked the summer, every day. He never stopped,” Thériault stated.

Following William’s death, Thériault said she was in total disbelief and didn’t know what had caused him to end his life.

After the parents of several of his friends reported the RCMP after getting sexually explicit videos, she eventually found out he had been the target of sextortion. One of those children’s fathers got in touch with Thériault to inform her of the situation.

She claimed that William, like many teenagers, was constantly texting and messaging friends on his phone.

William was actually seeing intimate pictures of another young woman, or so he believed. He was then requested to give pictures of himself in exchange.

She claimed that the individual who corresponded with William had blackmailed him by threatening to share pictures of him on social media if he failed to pay. He failed to pay.

The pictures were posted on Instagram three days later. William took his own life not too long after.

Thériault remarked, “They convince you that if you don’t pay, your life is over.”

Despite having many friends and a large support system, according to his mother, his “fear of being judged” was perhaps too great.

Thériault added that although the RCMP had taken her son’s electronics, it had taken ten months to unlock his phone in the absence of a password.

She was then informed by police that the sextortion operation was connected to a criminal network in West Africa and that Interpol would be looking into the matter more broadly.

Police throughout Canada are alerting the public to an increase in sextortion schemes with financial motivations that prey mostly on young men.

Since 2023, the New Brunswick RCMP has received 66 reports of internet sextortion, of which 23 have been received since January 1.

Two guys from the Moncton region appeared in court this week on allegations of sextortion. Nine men and three women are among the suspected victims, all of whom were in Quebec, according to the police. Three of the victims said they had been threatened and conned into paying more than $5,000.

The number of tips sent to Cybertip.ca, Canada’s official hotline for reporting child sexual exploitation online, has increased by 150% in the last six months. It receives roughly ten reports of sextortion every day.

Senior manager Catherine Tabak of the organization stated that thieves are utilizing applications to target children on social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat in addition to playing online games.

“These extorter groups are relentless. We are now seeing a lot of tactics being used towards threats to harm the child, threats to harm the family,” the speaker stated.

According to Tabak, these organizations are persuading kids that they have put themselves in circumstances where their lives are coming to an end.

Although some arrests have taken place in Canada, she stated that organized crime gangs mostly operate in Nigeria and the Ivory Coast are responsible for extortion schemes.

According to Tabak, parents should discuss the dangers of sextortion with their kids, teach them how to spot online warning signals, and provide services they may use in case they need assistance. She added that since young people frequently don’t feel comfortable talking to their parents about this, it’s critical that they know who a safe adult to turn to.

In the event that someone feels threatened, the RCMP advises that they should notify the police, take screenshots of communications, preserve a copy of any photographs, and quickly deactivate the account and block the offending individual.

Thériault stated that her family is still deeply affected by William’s passing.

“It’s ups and downs. William left a big void and we miss him. But we continue to keep going because we know that’s what he would’ve wanted.”

Thériault stated that her intention is to come forward in order to increase awareness and stop similar tragedies caused by cyberbullying and online sextortion. The Kids Help Phone number and William’s hockey jersey are hung in the arena where he played.

It’s critical, she said, that sextortion victims understand they are not alone.

“Even if it happens, you’ll get past it. Your life isn’t over.”

Imperial Hospital Sylhet
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Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury is the Editor of The Daily Dazzling Dawn. Previously, he has been serving in important positions in all the famous national dailies of the Bangladesh since the nineties. He has played a commendable role in journalism by participating in various events at the national and international levels. United Nations Conference, World Climate Conference, SAARC Summit are notable among them.

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