When we like someone on an online dating app, we always assume that everything they tell us and the pictures they send of themselves are real. However, what happens when you think you are talking to the person of your dreams, only to find out they were actually a minor?!
Or even worst…
It’s a scammer claiming to be a minor.
How This Scam Works Within the LGBT Community
It usually starts when gay men try to find their significant other online, and find someone they really like. He claims to be 18-21 years old and chats with you for a few minutes to gain your trust. Usually, he will then claim that the certain dating app burns up his phone, so he needs to text you and get your number. Once he texts you, he then convinces you to send explicit photos to him. In some cases, he will even ask to meet up with you to perform “explicit acts.”
Once he gets what he wants out of you, you then quickly receive a phone call from someone pretending to be law enforcement or the parent stating that you hooked up with a 15-year-old minor, even though the guy you sent the pictures to was over 18. They demand that you need to pay them money in order for them to forget about what you’ve done, or they will press charges against you and post your pictures online. In some states, you can face up to 15-years in prison for child pornography, so most of the time people pay the scammers tons of money to save themselves.
Once you pay them your life’s savings, they demand even more money from you until you can’t give them any more money. Usually, they will have you either wire the money to them or give it to them in a form of a prepaid gift card, so that the money that you give them is untraceable. They also have your phone number, so they can look up any information they want about you to scare you into giving them more money. However, if you were to look up the scammer’s phone number chances are you wouldn’t be able to find it since they most likely used a third-party app to text you.
Once they drain every penny from your bank account, they stop talking to you and block you immediately.
How to Avoid This Type of Scam
- Ask for an ID of the person you are talking to. This will allow you to ensure that you are talking to someone who is over 18-years of age. That way if a scammer does talk to you, they won’t scare you as bad because you know the person you did explicit things with was over 18 years of age.
- Don’t give anyone any money for any reason. If someone is trying to scare you over the phone to give you money, don’t let it fool you into giving them money. Instead, hang up and block the number. This will prevent them from being able to contact you, and since there was no minor involved they can’t call the cops on you.
- Don’t give out any personal information on a dating app. Giving scammers your name, phone number, email address, and sometimes even a social media username can mean them searching it up on a reverse search site and finding out a lot more information about you.
- Get a “ghost” phone number on a third-party texting app if absolutely necessary. This will prevent the scammers from obtaining your personal information through your phone number.
- Try to keep all forms of conversation on the dating app. This will allow you to report any suspicious activity to the app if you suspect you are talking to a scammer.
- Follow your gut feeling. If you feel like something is shady or suspicious, that means it usually is. Block the person you are talking to if something doesn’t seem right. This will protect you, your personal information, and your bank account.
- Consult an attorney to talk to the scammer. If you’re unsure about whether or not the scammer’s threats are fake, have an attorney talk to them to resolve the issue.
- Report the scammer on the dating app you’re using. If you report the scammer on the dating app, chances are their profile will be blocked from the dating profile and make it inconvenient to scam more people.
- Report the scammer to local authorities and the FTC. By reporting the scammer, there is a likely chance they will get caught with charges filed against them, and in some cases will even face jail time.
If you feel like you’ve been in a similar situation with a scammer and want to find out who the scammer really is, Social Catfish is here to help! We can reverse search their name, email address, phone number, social media username, and even their image! Find out who you’ve been talking to today.