SEXTORTION UNPLUGGED: REPORT DATING SCAMS BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE

The unscrupulous practice of fleecing for sex favors under the threat of exposing private and sensitive information on public platforms has come to be called sextortion, which can assume mammoth proportions if reporting dating scams is not done on time.

Dating scams can take innocent daters for a ride, causing both emotional and financial damage. Under a dating scam, online dating websites are infested with fake profiles of smart and willing singles, who cajole their unsuspecting victims into a trap set to rob them of their privacy, savings and peace of mind.

Report dating scams that demand financial favors

Nigerian dating scams are notorious for approaching people who look for fun and entertainment by dating online. They use different conning techniques and try to win the trust and confidence of their partners by:

  • Being regular in their conversations and lending a sympathetic ear to listen.
  • Offering philosophical and moral solace for depressed partners when share their personal stories.
  • Express their desire to convert the virtual relationship into a lasting one.
  • Lure partners with the prospect of a personal meeting.

The scammers are so cunning as to invest time and effort in making the relationship look real. They may even wait for months together to maximize their earnings, after becoming the confidante  of their partners, who would be willing to do anything at their behest. The fake partners are a large proportion Nigerian and hence the name Nigerian romance scams is being used. The different conning techniques used in these dating scams include:

  • Requests for funds transfer citing employment or locational difficulties on inability to transfer it themselves.
  • Under the pretext of relocating to the country of the partner, these Nigerians coerce the victims to help them relocate by extending financial help.
  • Requesting them to pay upfront for security deposit of their new homes, office premises and for capital in their new business.

Sextortion crimes on the increase

Sextortion is a growing cybercrime that is nothing but sheer blackmail. Here, the aim of scammers is not one-time financial rip off that happens commonly in romance scams. The motives are even murkier. A sextortion crime occurs in the following fashion:

  • Develop an unquestionable relationship where the partner is fully convinced of the genuineness, unaware of the dating scam that lies hidden.
  • When the scammers is convinced that the victim makes no attempt to report dating scams, they become active in collecting private information, with or without the knowledge of the victims.
  • After having collected enough information and after having the victims hooked on to them emotionally, the sextorionists strike unawares, by making obscene requests.
  • They blackmail victims of sharing their sensitive information to the world, by emails, social media posts etc.

Report dating scams if scammers probe for personal information

Usually, the probe does not begin all of a sudden. Dating scammers are smart and they build a seemingly trustworthy relationship with the partners. They may even make small investments to make the partners believe that the relationship has nothing suspicious in it. However, one must be on alert and report dating scams, to avoid a possible sextortion attempt, if the online friend starts acting very nosy and asks for information such as:

  • Financial details including position of fixed and liquid assets.
  • Bank account numbers, passwords, card numbers and PINs.
  • Employment details and official emails ids, passwords.
  • In case there is a mental or physical health issue, probing into the same for eliciting very private details, which the person would not hear of getting leaked in public.
  • Information about past relationships and affairs.
  • Requests to share images and videos, of very intimate and private moments either with the scammer or with their ex-partners.

All the aforesaid advances are signs of dating scams and sextortion. The worthwhile activity on the part of the online daters will be to report dating scams and take legal recourse to the issue.

Remain vigilant if suspicious requests surface

The following apparently genuine requests from the sex partners may be indicative of an impending sextortion attempt:

  • A sympathetic story line such as an extremely troublesome spouse or a boyfriend who abuses or even assaults the person and the person is looking for physical and mental comfort.
  • Being very candid on the web camera, with a request to do the same. Many youngsters and teenagers fall prey to this ploy and end up getting sexually very close to their partners on the web camera.
  • Be wary of requests that might require you to travel overseas alone. Do not travel without informing your family on whereabouts. More importantly, carrying packages or official documents on behalf of the partner must be avoided.
  • In many cases, the scammer may refer victims to visit a psychiatrist or take up an online healing course with a therapist, that requires revealing confidential information on their past to the therapists. Victims must double check the credentials of such therapists before divulging information.

Strange requests such as the aforesaid, are to be viewed skeptically and people must not make any delay to report dating scams, at the first instance.

Report dating scams to avoid future sextortion

What makes it easy for dating scams to perpetrate into a full-fledged sextortion is the twinge of illegality associated with the victims like underage dating, extra marital relationship etc., which makes them hold back their efforts to report dating scams. Scammers cash in on this inability, knowing fully well that it will be impossible for the victims to report dating scams. In these cases, the following points need to be considered:

  • Parents of minor children who have gotten into the tangle of dating scams by unauthorized usage of social media, must treat such instances with empathy, so that the criminals are brought to light at the right time.
  • Nowadays, most organizations provide anonymous reporting of dating scams or the guarantee to protect the identity of the victims.

The picture-perfect romantic relationship starts assuming gory proportions of dating scams when the tone and approach of the trusted partners start taking a turn for the worse.