Spot Extortion Scams on Queer Dating Apps
It’s Pride Month, and perhaps you’ve been using an LGBTQ+ dating app in an effort to meet someone new. Scams that target persons using LGBTQ+ dating apps, such as Grindr and Feeld, have been brought to the attention of the FTC. And these aren’t your run-of-the-mill romantic scams when someone says they love you and asks for money in return. They are attempts to extract money from you.
What are extortion scams?
A type of con known as an extortion scam is one in which the target of the fraud is threatened, coerced, or blackmailed into providing some form of cash or service.
The act of gaining a benefit through the use of coercion is the practice of extortion. It is quite likely to be considered a criminal offense in the majority of jurisdictions; the majority of this article is dedicated to discussing examples like this.
Extortion can take several forms, the most basic and widespread of which is armed robbery. However, another form of extortion is making false threats in order to gain an unfair competitive edge in business.
Extortion is sometimes referred to as the “protection racket.” This is because the racketeers often phrase their demands as payment for “protection” from (real or hypothetical) threats from unspecified other parties.
However, in most cases, and almost always, such “protection” is simply the abstinence of harm from the same party, and this is implied in the “protection” offer. The organized criminal community frequently engages in the practice of extortion.
In some jurisdictions, actually obtaining the benefit is not required to commit the offense; rather, it is sufficient to commit the offense to make a threat of violence that refers to a requirement of a payment of money or property to stop further violence.
This is because some jurisdictions consider the threat of violence to be sufficient to commit the offense. In addition to referring to extortion, which is the act of demanding and obtaining something through the use of force, “exaction” also has a secondary, more technical meaning, which is “the infliction of something such as pain and suffering or making somebody endure something unpleasant.”
Extortion is the act of demanding and obtaining something through the use of force.
How do extortion scams on dating apps work?
According to an organization in the United States, a typical case involves a con artist posing as a prospective romantic partner on one of the dating apps.
The cybercriminal poses as a stranger and sends sexual images to the mark, then requests that the mark send back photos that are identical to the ones they sent. If the victim shares images, the extortionist will demand a payment (often in the form of gift cards) or threaten to share the photos on the chat with the victim’s family members, friends, or job. If the victim does not comply, the extortionist will continue to harass them until they comply.
This extortion is the latest example of criminals utilizing an event to target their victims; Pride Month, which honors the anniversary of the Stonewall demonstrations that took place in Greenwich Village in New York City in 1969 in response to a police raid on a bar, is the event in question. It was the event that tipped the balance in favor of the gay pride movement.
Since the beginning of the year, the FTC has been making efforts to educate members of the LGBTQ+ community about cons that specifically target their community. The most recent message from the organization is very much like one that was distributed in September of 2021.
In addition, during National Consumer Protection Week last month, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) invited members of the LGBTQ+ community to report frauds to help educate more than 3,000 law enforcement officials and to assist the agency in spreading the word to safeguard others.
“Fraudsters frequently try to impersonate well-known persons, organizations, and businesses that we are familiar with and trust,” the regulatory agency noted. “For the LGBTQ+ community, this can include safe spaces,” which are locations where individuals are free to live their life however they choose.
At the beginning of this month, the regulating body reaffirmed that dating apps and job forums designed to assist members of the LGBTQ+ community in finding friendly employers are two of the most common ways that con artists target individuals affiliated with these communities.
In a broader sense, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been vocal over the past few months about the increase in cons connected to online romance. The FBI stated in September that these types of scams typically involve making initial contact through dating apps or other social media sites. After establishing an online relationship with the potential victim, the con artist then attempts to sell them on the idea of investing in cryptocurrency or participating in other trading opportunities that promise significant profits.
It typically goes like this: a scam artist uses an LGBTQ+ dating app to pose as a potential romantic partner, starts chatting with you, then sends you some intimate images and begs for more of the same in exchange. If you send the images, I will begin to blackmail you. They will threaten to reveal your private discussion and images to your friends, family, or work if they do not receive payment, which will typically be in the form of a gift card.
Other con artists will threaten individuals who are LGBTQ+ but do not yet fully “out” themselves to the public. They might threaten to “ruin your life” by publishing explicit images or conversations in order to intimidate you into paying up or facing the consequences of their actions.
No matter how they spin it, the end goal is the same: they want your money. This is what you should do: It’s best to keep your personal details to yourself while talking to someone you’ve just met through a dating app. This includes your mobile phone number, email address, and profile information for any social media sites you use.
Examine the person with whom you are conversing. Run a reverse image search on the person’s profile photo to see whether it’s related to another name or with details that don’t match up – both of these are signals that you might be the victim of a scam. Don’t give money to con artists if they ask you to delete images or conversations. There is no assurance that they will carry out the plan.
The FBI strongly warns against complying with extortion requests because doing so could help fund illegal activity.
Also, keep in mind that once you post images online, there is no way to get them back. Notify the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) if you come across a fraud.
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