Naked scammers are using the internet to strip men of their clothes and then their money, according to a CNN report by Doug Gross. A beautiful young woman will friend, tag, or follow a vulnerable man online in order to persuade him to get naked on a webcam. Unknown to the victim, the woman is recording the scene so that she can blackmail him later.
The Singapore Police Force says that they’ve seen “almost a five-fold increase” in reports of the online extortion — a rise from 11 in 2011 to 50 in 2012. Many extortion victims never report the crime, for fear of having the naked videos released on the web, so it’s likely that there are many more.
Women have long been victimized by online blackmailers and extortionists. And it isn’t always about money. As Dan Evon has reported, revenge can also be a motive. An infamous site called Texxxan.com allegedly provided a safe place for angry men to post nude photos of their exes. Dozens of women were forced to file lawsuits against the site and its host GoDaddy before it was removed from the web.
In that case, the women knew that the nude photos were being taken, but they expected them to remain a private matter between themselves and their partners. In the Singapore extortion cases, the men apparently didn’t realize that any performance on a webcam might be grabbed by a screen recorder without their knowledge. Or maybe they just didn’t believe that a naked woman could be a high-tech scammer.
Underage kids, probably because they are considered less tech-savvy and more trusting, have also been targeted. As Nathan Francis reported in the tragic Amanda Todd case, sometimes a vulnerable young victim will even commit suicide if the naked photos are shared.
The FBI confirms that online dating extortion is active in the United States as well. A report from their Internet Crime Complaint Center warns about a scam where the victims were sent a link to a website that named them as a “cheater” and sometimes included entire transcripts of their naughty conversations, in addition to photos. Some victims complied with the extortionists’ demands to pay $99 to have the site removed, but the extortionists just took the money and ran.
Some years ago, I put black electrical tape over my computer’s “eye” to prevent someone from inadvertently grabbing a photo of me without my make-up. Apparently, the naked scammers are expert at luring in men who haven’t yet figured out that anything you do on a webcam can be recorded.