The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned everyone of extortionists targeting the LGBTQ+ community via dating apps such as Feeld and Grindr.
According to the FTC, extortion scammers are posing as potential dates on these apps, sending sexual photos, and manipulating their victims to reply to the explicit content. Once the victim falls into this trap, the extortionists go on to blackmail them for an extortion fine by threatening to reveal the conversation.
They threaten that the sexual images, texts, and information shared will be sent to friends, families, and the workplace if the victim fails to pay up the ransom, usually as gift cards.
According to the FTC, the scammers make their threats more realistic by mentioning the names of people they will send the leaked information to if the payment is not prompt. These details are from victim’s social media profiles that scammers find by using the victim’s phone numbers and email addresses.
Many scammers also threaten to reveal the “closeted” queer individuals as a form of blackmailing for money. This is also done through explicit photos, screenshots of conversations, and other shared intimate information.
Due to these incidents, the FTC has warned dating app users not to share any private information or sexually explicit photos with strangers from the apps.
A few of their tips to steer clear of these extortionists are to:
- Do a reverse image search for profile pictures of a potential date. If the information does not match with their description or picture, they can be scammers.
- Stay away from sharing intimate or explicit pictures of yourself, as those are potential online blackmail material for extortionists.
- Do not click any files scammers share on the chat as they can be to hack your device for private details.