BBB on dating apps: Be careful what you put out there – WPRI.com

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EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — While the vast majority of people on dating apps are looking for love, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) said scammers are targeting vulnerable users.
The BBB is urging hopeless romantics to use caution when putting photos, videos and personal information out there.
The scheme, according to BBB’s Paula Fleming, begins when the scammer convinces the person they’re talking with to send them explicit photos or videos of themselves.
Once the victim returns the favor, “that’s when the blackmailing begins,” she said.
“They’re blackmailing you so they don’t expose your pictures online to friends, to colleagues or to the entire world,” Fleming explained.
Fleming said the scammer typically demands money from the victim in exchange for keeping those photos and videos private.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that in 2020 alone, scammers siphoned $304 million out of dating app users, which is a roughly 50% increase from the year prior.
The scheme, according to Fleming, is targeting users from across the country, including in New England.
“We have been notified … by a few people that have unfortunately provided photos of themselves that they prefer not to be public,” Fleming said.
When it comes to meeting people online, whether it be on dating apps or other websites, the BBB suggests keeping your wits about you.
“Once you send a video or photo, there’s no way of getting it back or taking back the action,” Fleming warned.
Here are a few things the BBB suggests everyone keep in mind:
If you believe you’ve fallen victim to a dating app scheme, report it using BBB’s Scam Tracker.
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