On October 23, the FBI issued an alert about a dating extortion scam via the Internet Crime Complain Center (IC3). According to the alert, the scam “baits individuals into intimate online conversations” and extorts money through blackmail.
Online dating scams are certainly nothing new, however the October 23rd FBI alert indicates that there has been a recent surge in complaints and a change in the way the scam works. The alert said, “The scam was initiated after the victims met someone online, such as on a dating site, and were asked to connect via a specific online social network. Shortly after, the conversations became sexual in nature. Later, victims received text messages, either containing their names, asking if it was them or containing a statement that indicated their names were posted on a particular website. The victims were provided a link to a page on the website that claimed they were a “cheater.” Photos of the victims and their telephone numbers were also posted. There was an option to view and buy the posted conversations for $9. Victims were also given the option to have their names and conversations removed for $99. Some were even told that once the payment was made, the information would be removed within an hour and the website would not allow anyone to post anything pertaining to the victims’ names again. However, reports do not indicate that the information was ever removed.”
Later in the day, the FBI News blog posted another caution about this threat. “The latest report from the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reinforces the fact that people looking for love online need to remain vigilant about who they choose to communicate with and how they do so.”