DON’T GET SCAMMED IN POLICE EXTORTION SHAM
Date: July 29, 2014 PIO Number: 14-7-26
Swindlers have hit the online dating scene and are targeting unsuspecting daters by passing themselves off as law enforcement officers working cases of internet crimes against children.
Broward Sheriff’s Office investigators first learned of the scam around March of this year and believe the suspects may have targeted more than a hundred victims. Working with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, BSO detectives from the Strategic Investigation Division have pinpointed the scammers’ mode of operation and are warning the public about the ruse.
Most of the victims were users of an online dating/chat forum. The suspects, posing as daters, engage the victims in conversations, eventually asking them to send sexually explicit pictures. Once the victim does, the suspect identifies himself as a law enforcement officer working with the Broward Sheriff’s Office. The suspect claims the picture was sent to a minor and tells the victim to pay a fine via Western Union or money order to avoid being arrested on a federal warrant.
The crime, known as “sextortion,” is defined as sexual blackmail. Victims, fearing public shame or being outed, have paid between $500 and $1,500 to meet the extortionists' demands. In these cases, the scammers use a law enforcement angle in an attempt to add legitimacy and urgency to the hoax by threatening arrest or prosecution.
In variations of this scam, the suspects have identified themselves as United States Customs and Border Patrol agents to victims attempting to buy medications online. The scammer states the victim is in violation of online pharmaceutical transactions (i.e. trafficking Viagra, Codeine or other controlled substances) and says the victim must pay a fine to avoid prosecution.
Since 2010, law enforcement officers have encountered the fake red light scam, IRS collection scam, missed jury duty scam and injured/incarcerated family member scam. All of these scams are carried out in a similar manner.
Things you should know:
• No law enforcement agency will ever contact you by telephone to demand money or any other form of payment.
• Citizens are reminded to use caution when conducting any online transaction or conversation originated in chat room forums.
• Never give out your personal information in response to an unsolicited phone call or email.
• If you receive a phone call from anyone claiming to be a federal agent or other law enforcement official seeking money, refuse the demand and report the threat to your local law enforcement agency immediately.
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