STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A man reported to the Stafford police that he lost $150,000 in an extortion scheme after he sent nude photos to a woman he met through the game app ‘Words with Friends.’
According to an incident report by the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office, the victim initially met the woman through ‘Words with Friends,’ and later exchanged messages – including nude photos – on Google Hangouts.
From there, the victim said he was extorted for $150,000 over the course of a year, as the woman threatened to send the nude photos to his family and employer if he didn’t pay up.
What is Sextortion?
While the FBI’s Richmond Field Office could not confirm whether they were involved in this particular investigation, the FBI has seen an increasing trend of schemes like this one specifically targeting teenage boys.
The Stafford Sheriff’s Office did not specify the age of the victim, but the Richmond FBI said sextortion schemes have increasingly targeted teenage boys between the ages of 14 and 17.
“In this scheme, it begins with the predator posing as a young girl on social media; and through deception and manipulation convinces a young male to engage in explicit sexual activity over video,” they wrote. “This video is secretly recorded and saved by the predator, who later reveals its existence and uses this to extort money, bank account information, or gift cards from the victim by threatening its release on various social media pages”
The FBI issued several recommendations to help people protect themselves from sextortion schemes.
- Consider restricting social media accounts, such as using a private Twitter or limiting interactions to only friends
- Don’t implicitly trust video or photo verification
- Be wary of anyone who asks you to switch apps
If you do fall victim to a sextortion scheme, the FBI recommends that you not delete any of the communications, as they can be helpful in the investigation.