Scammers in South Florida have begun targeting online daters with a sexting extortion scam.
The scammers pose as users of dating website mbuzzy.com, engaging the victims in conversation. The scammers then request the victim send explicit photographs. If the victim obliges, the scammers then attempt to extort money from the victim by claiming to be law enforcement investigating internet crime against children. So far, reports WPLG-TV, victims have paid between $500 - $1500 each to the scammers.
How Does the Scam Work?
This latest extortion scam is simple, but so far has proven effective with more than 100 victims since March.
When the victim sends sexually explicit pictures, the scammers claim that they are Broward Sheriff's officers. The scammers claim that the sexually explicit pictures were sent to a minor and that in order to avoid federal sex crime charges, the victim must pay a fine via Western Union.
How Do You Know if You're Being Scammed?
According to Broward Sheriff's Office Major Don Peterson -- who told WPLG-TV that his name was being used by the scammers -- no law enforcement officer would ever ask for money in order to avoid an arrest.
How to Avoid Online Dating Scams
In general, there are several ways to prevent being victimized by an online dating scam:
- Search the person's name and see if you can find any proof he or she is a real person,
- Run a Google image search on his or her photos to see if they are taken from somewhere else,
- Ask to meet in a public place, and
- Never disclose financial information, provide personal information, or give photographs that could be used to blackmail or extort you.
If you believe you've been the victim of an online scam, contact your local police department.
- Scammers Are Using Sexts To Extort Thousands Of Dollars From Online Dating Users (Business Insider)
- Facebook Sex Scam: Anthony Stancl Gets 15 Years (FindLaw Blotter)
- What Is a 'Catfishing' Scam? Ask Manti Te'o (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Online Dating Scams Target Single Women (FindLaw's Common Law)