The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned that extortion scammers are targeting the LGBTQ+ community through dating apps such as Feeld and Grindr.
According to Bleeping Computer, the FTC revealed that fraudsters commonly pose as potential romantic partners on LGBTQ+ dating apps and send explicit photos to their targets in the hope that they reciprocate.
If the victims fall for the trick, they can be blackmailed to pay a ransom under the threat of the hackers potential leaking the imagery with their family, friends and employers.
The FTC said, “To make their threats more credible, these scammers will tell you the names of exactly who they plan to contact if you don’t pay up. This is information scammers can find online by using your phone number or your social media profile.
“Other scammers threaten people who are ‘closeted’ or not yet fully ‘out’ as LGBTQ+. They may pressure you to pay up or be outed, claiming they’ll ‘ruin your life’ by exposing explicit photos or conversations.”
The commission has advised LGBTQ+ dating app users to avoid sharing explicit photos unless they’re completely sure who is on the other end of the conversation, as well as not providing any sensitive information such as a phone number, social media profile or email address.
In addition, the FTC noted that victims should not pay scammers to destroy photos or conversations – as there is no guarantee that they’ll do it.
The FBI recently claimed sextortion complaints have seen a ‘massive increase’ since the start of 2021, with the total financial losses accounting for over $8m.
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