BBB on Dating Apps: Be Careful What You Post

EAST PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) – While the vast majority of people on dating apps are looking for love, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) these crooks target vulnerable users.

The BBB urges desperate romantics to use caution when posting photos, videos and personal information.

The ploy, according to the BBB’s Paula Fleming, begins when the scammer convinces the person he’s talking to to send him explicit photos or videos of themselves.

Once the victim reciprocates, “that’s when the blackmail starts,” she said.

“They blackmail you so that they don’t expose your photos online to friends, colleagues or the world,” Fleming explained.

Fleming said the scammer usually demands money from the victim in exchange for keeping those photos and videos confidential.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that in 2020 alone, scammers embezzled $ 304 million from dating app users, representing an increase of about 50% from the previous year.

The program, according to Fleming, targets users across the country, including New England.

“We have been informed… by a few people who have unfortunately provided photos of themselves that they prefer not to be public,” Fleming said.

When it comes to meeting people online, whether it’s on dating apps or other websites, the BBB suggests keeping a cool head.

“Once you upload a video or photo, there’s no way to get it back or resume action,” Fleming warned.

Here are a few things the BBB suggests everyone to keep in mind:

  • Never share your personal information with someone you just met. Don’t give out your cell phone number, home address, email address, or even your social media profile to a stranger. Wait until you get to know and trust someone, preferably when you’ve already met them in person.
  • Look for your love interest. A telltale sign that you are dealing with a con artist is a stolen profile picture. Do a reverse image search the person’s profile picture to make sure it’s not used under a different name or across multiple profiles.
  • Don’t pay crooks money. Even if you pay them, you have no guarantee that the crooks won’t use the photos or videos anyway. In addition, your money could be financing of criminal activities.
  • Think before you send photos or videos. Once you send a photo or video, you cannot retrieve it. Keep in mind that even video calls can be recorded and use common sense to protect your reputation.

If you think you’ve been the victim of a dating app scam, report it using BBB’s Scam Tracker.

About Jimmie P. Ricks

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