FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Online daters are being targeted by con artists passing themselves off as law enforcement officers who are working to crack down on internet crimes against minors.
According to the Broward Sheriff’s Office, the scammers are posing as online daters and engage the victims in conversations.
Once a rapport has been established, the suspects ask for sexually explicit pictures. Once the victim sends the photos, the suspect identifies himself as an officer working with the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
The suspect then tells the victim that the picture was actually sent to a minor and that an arrest will be made on a federal warrant if the victim doesn’t pay a fine via Western Union or money order.
The crime is known as “sextortion” and is defined as sexual blackmail. Over 100 victims have fallen for this scam since March and, fearing public shame or being outed, have paid between $500 and $1,500 to meet the extortionists’ demands.
Different variations of the scam have seen suspects identify themselves as United States Custom and Border Patrol agents to victims trying to buy medications online. In this case, the scammer tells the victim that they are in violation of online pharmaceutical transactions (such as trafficking Viagra or any other controlled substance) and must pay a fine to avoid being prosecuted.