Due to an uptick in recent scam reports, we at the Sheriff’s Office feel it necessary to put out a memo regarding a recent internet scam that has been going on affecting numerous individuals in our community. The scam itself is not brand new, but has become increasingly more common over the last few months.
-A victim will be contacted by the scammer typically over some sort of social media (Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, etc.) The scammer is often posing as a person who is physically attractive. Please do not add people you do not know or have zero to few mutual friends with.
-The scammer will then engage in conversation with the victim, often in a very intimate and aggressive manner under the guise that a relationship will follow. The scammer will then ask to exchange picture messages or even video chat via applications such as Skype or Zoom. The scammer then convinces the victim to send personal or explicit images or videos. A screenshot or screen record is then taken of the victim in a compromising position. Please do not send explicit images or videos of yourself, let alone to anyone you don’t know or aren’t comfortable with. ONCE THAT IMAGE/VIDEO IS SENT, THERE IS NO GETTING IT BACK.
-The scammer will then threaten to send the images or videos to the victim’s friends list, family, employers, etc., unless the victim pays the scammer a ransom. At this point, the scammer has already obtained personal information about the victim such where the victim works or lives, the victim’s family, or the victim’s other social media accounts. Even if the victim does pay the ransom, that still does not make the images or videos go away.
The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office took reports of over $57,000 lost in internet scams in 2020. Unfortunately, that number is just what gets reported and is only a drop in the bucket of what people are actually losing to scammers, as victims are often too embarrassed to come forward. If something seems too good to be true, it is.