On a dating app? Think twice before sending revealing photos or videos. Some con artists are taking 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 FTC reports that this particular scam is especially common on LGBTQ+ dating apps, such as Grindr and Feeld. The person sends you explicit photos of themselves and asks you to reply with your own revealing pictures.
If you send the images or videos, the scammer begins to blackmail you. Scammers use your phone number or social media profile to look up names of your friends, family members, and even your workmates or boss. Then, they threaten to send images to the people you care most about.
According to one BBB Scam Tracker report, after a compromising video call, a woman began “blackmailing me, [threatening] to release the video footage on social media and send it to my friends and family. [Then] a guy took over blackmailing. They were demanding a sum of $3000.”
Scammers often ask for payment via gift card or wired funds – methods that can’t be traced to them and make it impossible for you to recuperate your funds. If you cooperate, you’ll lose your money, and there’s no guarantee the scammers will delete the images and videos. In fact, scammers will likely continue contacting you, asking for more money periodically.
How to Avoid Dating App Scams
- Never share your personal information with someone you just met. Don’t
give your cell phone number, home address, email address, or even your
social media profile to a stranger. Wait until you know and trust a
person, preferably when you’ve already met them in person.
- Research your love interest. One telltale sign
you’re dealing with a scammer is a stolen profile picture. Do a reverse
image search of the person’s profile picture to make sure it isn’t being
used under a different name or on multiple profiles.
- Think before you send photos or videos. Once you
send a photo or video, you cannot get it back. Keep in mind that even
video calls can be recorded and use good judgement to protect your
- Don’t pay money to scammers. You have no guarantee that scammers won’t use the photos or videos anyway. Plus, your money could be funding criminal activity.
For More Information
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 as well to boost community awareness and help others protect themselves.
Cover image courtesy Pixabay