Scammers Are Not Leaving The LGBTQ Community Alone in A Whirlpool of Dating Scams
The LGBTQ+ community is being warned by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States about frauds that specifically target them on dating apps. The LGTBQ+ community is the target of several scams being perpetrated by threat actors.
One of these scams involves luring individuals on dating apps into sending graphic images, which are then used as blackmail. Scammers will develop a relationship with their victims on the app and earn their trust by giving them sexually explicit images and asking them to give them photos of themselves in return.
If a ransom is not paid, the criminals will then threaten to make the images public and share them with friends, family, and employers if they do not receive payment. Gift cards that cannot be tracked are typically the preferred kind of payment requested by the threat actors.
Scammers have also threatened to publicly out members of the LGBTQ+ community who use the app but are not open about their sexual orientation or gender identity in exchange for a ransom payment. Scammers may also threaten to out people who are still “closeted” or reveal the identities of those they will contact if the ransom is not paid.
The consumer protection watchdog stated that “other scammers threaten those who are ‘closeted’ or not yet fully ‘out’ as LGBTQ+.” They might put pressure on you to make a payment or risk being identified, saying they’ll “ruin your life” if they reveal intimate chats or images.
These strategies have been used in the past. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) published a study in September 2021 stating that victims of online romance scams have together lost more than $113 million since the beginning of 2021.
How to recognize the dating app extortion scam
The FTC warns the LGBTQ+ community not to share their graphic images with persons they meet online. These sexually explicit chats should be avoided if users’ identities are not completely verified. Users can prevent such actions if they:
- Always verify who you are speaking with: Analyze the person’s profile image to check if it’s connected to a different identity or has any elements that don’t add up; they are indications that a fraud is taking place.
- Don’t exchange personal information, such as phone numbers, email addresses, and social media accounts, with somebody you just met on a dating app.
- Don’t pay scammers to delete conversations or photos because there is no assurance they will
It is always possible for anybody to conduct a reverse image search using the photographs that a person has uploaded to their profile. Names and other details can be helpful in finding other accounts or learning more about a person using Google. This is likely a scam if the aforementioned information and photographs do not correspond to those seen on other social media and platforms.
Sharing personal information with ransom users on dating apps such as email addresses, cell phone numbers, social media profiles, or facts about the employment might lead to further information being gathered about you without your knowledge or permission.
These scammers are able to stalk your accounts and family members who are already linked on social media in order to obtain additional information about you and your loved ones. Additionally, online dating sites have already alerted their members to the possibility that extortion scams could target them.
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Social media and dating apps are a top target for these bad actors, according to Grindr, as scammers try to take advantage of those trying to connect meaningfully.
Feel further advises users to “never follow through on any payment requests from other members as these can be attempts at identity theft or financial fraud” and to “always be mindful when you share personal details such as your real name, phone number, address or any other personal information.”
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Beware of extortion schemes and avoid being a target
These dating sites can cause a number of problems, and criminals frequently utilize extortion scams as a means of profit. The Grindr platform has already warned users that these shady characters are targeting social media and dating websites.
Scammers try to take advantage of people yearning for love and fulfilling relationships. Red flags frequently go unnoticed because people are gullible and eager to find love. Feeld constantly cautions individuals against sharing and exchanging personal details including phone numbers, full names, addresses, and personal information.
Prior to this, sextortion incidents involving celebrities were more common. However, recent increases imply that Americans alone may lose hundreds of millions of dollars to online romance scams in 2021.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a warning in September about a significant increase in the number of online romance scams, which had caused American victims to lose over $113 million since the beginning of 2021. The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) of the FBI received more than 18,000 sextortion-related complaints in 2021, which resulted in approximately $13.6 million worth of losses.
According to the statement published by the FBI, “the majority of victims say that the initial contact with the fraudster is reciprocal and initiated utilizing dating services and apps.” Those who are the targets of sextortion fraudsters should immediately stop dealing with the criminals, get in touch with law authorities, and file a complaint with the FBI IC3 at www.ic3.gov as soon as possible.
In addition, the FBI offers advice that can help you avoid being a victim of extortion, including the following:
- Under NO circumstances should you transmit incriminating photos of yourself to anyone, regardless of who they claim to be or who they are.
- Do not open attachments sent to you by someone that you are not familiar with. Through the use of malware, Links can hack into your electronic devices in the background and gain unauthorized access to your private data, images, and contacts. They can even take control of your webcam and microphone without your awareness
· When not in use, ensure that all of your electronic gadgets, including web cams, are turned off.
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