Watch out for blackmailers on dating sites

The Better Business Bureau serving the Canton and Greater West Virginia area offers tips and advice for consumers to avoid fraudulent practices.

Are you using a dating app? Think twice before sending revealing photos or videos. Some crooks take a sinister approach to romance scams by blackmailing their victims.

How the scam works

You meet someone you are interested in on a dating app. The person sends you explicit photos of themselves and asks you to respond with your own revealing images. If you send the pictures or videos, then the scammer starts blackmailing you. Scammers use your phone number or social media profile to look up the names of your friends, family, and even coworkers or boss. Then they threaten to send those photos to your contacts.

According to a BBB Scam Tracker report, after a compromising video call, a woman started “blackmailing me, (threatening) to broadcast the video footage on social media and send it to my friends and family.” (Then) a guy took over the blackmail. They were asking for $ 3,000.

Scammers often ask for payment by gift card or wire transfer – methods that cannot be traced to them and that prevent you from getting your funds back. If you cooperate you will lose your money and there is no guarantee that the crooks will remove the pictures and videos. In fact, scammers will likely continue to contact you, periodically asking you for more money.

How to Avoid Dating App Scams

Never share your personal information with someone you just met. Don’t give out your cell phone number, home address, email address, or even your social media profile to a stranger. Wait until you know and trust someone, preferably when you’ve already met them in person.

Look for your love interest. A telltale sign that you are dealing with a con artist is a stolen profile picture. Perform a reverse image search of the person’s profile photo to make sure it’s not used under a different name or across multiple profiles.

Think before you send photos or videos. Once you send a photo or video, you cannot retrieve it. Keep in mind that even video calls can be recorded and use common sense to protect your reputation.

Don’t pay crooks money. Even if you pay them, you have no guarantee that the crooks won’t use the photos or videos anyway. In addition, your money could fund criminal activities.

FOR MORE INFORMATION – Protect yourself by reading the BBB Tip: Romance Scams (bbb.org/romancescam) and visiting 10 Steps to Avoid Scams at bbb.org/avoidscams. If you’ve been the victim of an extortion scam, report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Submit a report to BBB.org/ScamTracker, whether or not you’ve lost money, to raise awareness in the community and help others protect themselves.

FOR BBB INFORMATION – Visit bbb.org/canton or call 330-454-9401 to find a business, file a complaint, write a customer review, read tips, find our events, follow us on social media, and more!


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