NEWS

Online Dating Scam Trending at Internet Crime Complaint Center

By Carlton Purvis

The FBI is warning about another online extortion scam trending at the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

Back in August the agency warned about a computer virus that could take a computer hostage by rendering it inoperable until the victim makes an online payment. The “ransomware” was also suspected of collecting personal and financial information. This month, scammers got even more personal.

IC3 has been receiving complaints about a dating extortion scam where people are baited into intimate online conversations. After exchanging explicit photos and messages and personal information, victims received a text message saying their information was posted online.

The victims were provided a link to a Web site where their conversation transcripts, photos, and phone numbers were posted. “There was an option to view and buy the posted conversations for $9. Victims were also given the option to have their names and conversations removed for $99,” says an IC3 alert about the scam.

The alert doesn't say how many people have fallen for the scam and IC3 doesn't have information on if the personal information was actually ever removed from the Internet.

The FBI says people pulling online dating scams usually claim to be Americans traveling or working abroad, but in reality live overseas.

The scams usually use well-crafted online profiles and target women over 40 who are divorced, widowed, or disabled, but anyone is at risk, says an FBI bulletin posted in February.

Check out tips on how to recognize an online dating scam artist on the FBI Web site.


photo by bixentro/flickr
 

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