New Online Scam Aims to Embarrass
Hackers and scammers are continually finding new ways to extort innocent victims via the internet, but a new scam takes the cake when it comes internet privacy invasions. The FBI is warning consumers of a scam that lures web users into having intimate online conversations, then blackmails them by threatening to go public with the data.
The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has been receiving reports of this scam in recent days. Users say that they were lured by someone online into deeply personal conversations, sharing explicit photos and even giving out personal information. At some point during these conversations, they're given a link to a website that reveals all of their conversation, photos and info has been stored, and could potentially be shared online. Victims are given the opportunity to view and purchase the information for $9, or pay $99 to have their names removed. However, IC3 says that some reports claimed the information remained posted, even after victims paid the fee.
Unfortunately online daters are often the targets of these scammers, as they sometimes put their internet security at risk by sharing personal data with strangers. Users can protect themselves from attacks by knowing the warning signs that they're dealing with a potential identity thief.
If it seems that your online date has instantly fallen in love, often makes plans to visit you but then cancels at the last minute, says he or she is from the U.S. but working or traveling overseas, or asks for money for questionable reasons, you may be dealing with a scammer, according to the FBI.
They may also press you to stop communicating through the website and instead move to more personal mediums, like email or telephone. For this reason, many online daters choose to use an additional phone number and email address when dating online.
Those who have been victims of an online dating scam can help prevent others from suffering the same fate by reporting the crime to the IC3. The organization works to fight criminals by identifying patterns across the various complaints they receive. The IC3 may ask for your name, telephone number, mailing address and any information on the website, individual or company that scammed you. They also frequently run press releases about scams to look out for.