Sextortion Online Scam Costs Local Man $40,000

A Johnston County man was swindled out of money in an online dating scam known as sextortion.

In February, the 24 year-old man was on a dating site and began corresponding with a young woman.  The woman quickly showed interest in the victim and began sending suggestive messages. She also encouraged him to send nude photos.

Within days of sending nude photos, the victim received emails from a person pretending to be the girl’s father. He claimed the woman was underage and the victim needed to send money in exchange for them not pursuing criminal charges.  The victim complied.

Later, the victim received emails claiming the young girl became distraught over the situation and took her life.  The victim sent more money after the family claimed they had hired an attorney to pursue a lawsuit.

Yet again, more emails. This time they claimed the child’s mother committed suicide and he needed to send more money to the family to pay for her burial and to avoid another lawsuit.

The victim sent amounts ranging from $500 to $6,000 between February and September 2020. Altogether, the man sent a total of $40,000.

Sextortion scams are on the rise.  Their goal is to obtain a psychological advantage over the victim, or a position of authority over them, and demand they send money.

Experts say even if the attackers have compromising photos or information never pay the ransom.  They will always ask for more money.  Authorities believe most of the sextortion accounts are set up overseas.  Many dating site apps suggest to users to be suspicious of anyone asking for explicit photographs or money. It could be someone trying to blackmail you.

According to Barracuda Research, as many as 10 percent of all phishing emails are blackmail and sextortion attempts.