Be Vigilant: ‘Sextortion’ Scams Are Up 8x, According to the FTC
A recent report by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says about 70,000 people will fall victim to love scams in 2022, with losses of about $1.3 billion, and a median loss of $4,400 per victim. Many of these scams use sexually explicit images to extort money from victims, the report noted. Here’s what we know.
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What is a romance scam?
Romance scams happen when attackers create fake online profiles and form relationships with online targets, ultimately gaining their affection and trust. Once the target feels they can trust the attacker, the criminals convince the target to lend them money. Another method leads to attackers asking targets for personal information so they can steal their money. Once the attackers get what they want, they disappear, leaving the target confused and robbed.
Who is the target of these sextortion romance scams?
According to the FTC, those between the ages of 18 and 29 are six times more likely than older consumers to report such romance scams. The way it works is that the attacker will convince the target to share intimate and explicit photos with them.
Once the attackers obtained the photos, they threatened the target, telling them they would share the photos on social media unless the target paid them. Since 2019, the number of reports has increased by more than 8 times.
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What are some other popular methods of romance scams?
While sextortion scams are on the rise, there are other, more popular ways for attackers to trick their targets into sending them money. According to the FTC, these are the most popular terms they will use.
“I, or someone close to me, got sick, got hurt, or went to jail.”
“I can teach you how to invest.”
“I’m in the army far away.”
“I need help with an important delivery.”
“We haven’t met, but let’s talk about getting married.”
“I got some money or gold.”
“I’m on an oil rig or a ship.”
“You can give me your private photos.”
Most of these attackers will find their targets on social media and then move on to other, more private messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Google Chat and Telegram. More victims have been reported sending cryptocurrencies than any other method.
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How can I prevent this from happening to me?
There are some key tips to always keep in mind when talking to someone you’ve never met online.
1) Note the occupation they claim to have: Most common romance scam comes from claiming to be in Military personnel, doctors for international organisations, workers on oil rigs, construction workers abroad or “top secret government positions”.
2) You are asked to transfer the conversation to a third-party platform: This person seems to want to get to know you better, but they may just want to move to a platform where your conversations are encrypted.
3) Never provide money or financial information: The biggest red flag is when someone asks you to give them money, especially if you’ve never met them.they usually pass Cryptocurrency, Venmo or Zelle, or via gift card.
4) They refuse to video chat with you: If someone isn’t video chatting with you, it might be because their identity doesn’t match their profile picture. Don’t be fooled.
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What to do if you think you have been scammed?
1) Report a scammer Federal Trade Commission here, On the website or app where you encounter them, and the relevant authorities.
2) If you send money, contact your bank or credit/debit card company and report the fraud.
3) If you sent a gift card, keep the receipt and Contact a Gift Card Company And report scams.
4) If you provide any personal information, such as social security number, follow the steps exist IdentityTheft.gov.
5) Be sure to invest in good identity theft software to protect your identity and financial accounts.
See my tips and best options on how to protect yourself from identity theft by searchingidentity theft” On CyberGuy.com click on the magnifying glass icon at the top of my website.
By reporting it, you can help prevent others from falling victim to the same romantic or sextortion scam. Remember, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. So please be cautious and always use good judgment when interacting with people on social media, dating apps or websites.
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Have you fallen victim to one of these romance scams? We want to know about your experience.
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