A Despicable New Sextortion Scam! Scamming The Parents Of Dead Children!

A Despicable New Scam!
Scamming The Parents Of Dead Children!

Scammers Continue Sextortion Scams Even When The Person Committed Suicide!

How Scams Work – A SCARS Insight

This Is About Sextortion Scams – With A Twist

You may know about sextortion scams, where a scammer manipulates someone into sending the scammer nude or compromising photos. But did you know that these scammers are doing it to teenage boys and girls?

THE RESULT IS OFTEN SUICIDE!

First Let’s Do An Overview Of Sextortion Scams

The FBI has seen a huge increase in the number of cases involving children and teens being threatened and coerced into sending explicit images online—a crime called sextortion.

Sextortion can start on any site, app, messaging platform, or game where people meet and communicate.

In some cases, the first contact with the criminal will be a threat. The person may claim to already have a revealing picture or video of a child (or an adult) that will be shared if the victim does not send more pictures. More often, however, this crime starts when young people believe they are communicating with someone their own age who is interested in a relationship or with someone who is offering something of value. Impersonated celebrities are often used by the criminals too.

After the criminals have one or more videos or pictures, they threaten to publish that content, or they threaten violence, to get the victim to produce more images. The shame, fear, and confusion children feel when they are caught in this cycle often prevents them from asking for help or reporting the abuse. Parents and young people should understand how this crime occurs and openly discuss online safety.

Financial Sextortion

The FBI also has recently seen an increase in financial sextortion cases targeting minor victims in the U.S.

Financial sextortion is different from traditional sextortion scams

In these cases, the offender receives sexually explicit material from the child and then threatens to release the compromising material unless the victim sends money and/or gift cards. The amount requested varies, and the offender often releases the victim’s sexually explicit material regardless of whether or not they receive payment. This increasing threat has resulted in an alarming number of deaths by suicide.

Now Let’s Look At The Dead Child Scam

According to Forbes.com:

Sextortion scammers have become increasingly ruthless, targeting families of teenage victims who took their own lives after sending nude images to highly organized cybercriminal gangs, the FBI has warned.

The gangs have demanded that parents or siblings pay to ensure that the sexualized photos of their deceased relatives are not publicly released, according to the agency’s previously unreported research. Found in a search warrant detailing an investigation into a sextortion campaign being organized via Facebook messages, the FBI’s findings come as experts warn of an explosion in sextortion cases over the last 18 months, with increasing numbers resulting in the victim taking their own life.

The FBI said in the search warrant it had witnessed “a high rate of suicide in minor male victims of financially motivated sextortion schemes,” and that victims “committed suicide within a relatively short time period, sometimes within hours, of the sextortion occurring.”

“There is no empathy or compassion whatsoever on the side of the criminals,”  veteran Homeland Security Investigations supervisory special agent Jim Cole told Forbes.

Scammers Have Become Increasingly Ruthless!

Sextortion scammers have become increasingly ruthless, targeting families of teenage victims who took their own lives after sending nude images to highly organized cybercriminal gangs, the FBI has warned.

The gangs have demanded that parents or siblings pay to ensure that the sexualized photos of their deceased relatives are not publicly released, according to the agency’s previously unreported research. Found in a search warrant detailing an investigation into a sextortion campaign being organized via Facebook messages, the FBI’s findings come as experts warn of an explosion in sextortion cases over the last 18 months, with increasing numbers resulting in the victim taking their own life.

The FBI said in the search warrant it had witnessed “a high rate of suicide in minor male victims of financially motivated sextortion schemes,” and that victims “committed suicide within a relatively short time period, sometimes within hours, of the sextortion occurring.”

How This All Works

These criminal crews, which are also perpetrating romance scams and hacking into corporate emails to trick businesses into transferring money to criminal accounts, are also targeting people over 18 and bringing in significant sums, Cole added. He claimed that in one recent case an adult victim paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to prevent his nudes from being leaked.

But many of these crimes are focused on teenagers. Investigators also connected the criminals to the suicide of a 17-year-old South Carolina victim in July.

“Youth are a particularly vulnerable community, yet still have some financial access that’s making it lucrative for these bad actors to be able to take advantage of,” said Lauren Coffren, an executive director at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), which hosts the national tip line on crimes against minors.

SCARS NOTE: It is our belief that indeed many of these are coming from Africa, however, we have recently seen indications that the majority may be coming from Asia – specifically India, where slang English is much less of a problem than with Africans. But we are also seeing the emerge in Latin America also!

The scammers are carrying out in-depth research into targets, too, mapping out their online lives, interests and contacts, Cole said, all to increase the chances of the scam’s success and its longevity. That would include obtaining information on their families, who could be targeted if the original victim died, Cole added.

Americans Are Doing This Scam Too!

Americans are also increasingly involved, too. According to the FBI research, carried out by the agency’s Child Exploitation Operations Unit, Americans were often being recruited as “mules.” These mules are recruited often with the promise of easy money, asked to set up bank and payment app accounts into which the proceeds of sextortion are sent and disbursed, in return for a cut. Sometimes they know they are complicit in a crime, other times not. As the FBI wrote in its search warrant, the mules are useful as “they provide obfuscation for the actors because the funds received from victims are laundered through the money mules’ accounts before being passed on to the actors.”

The FBI warrant detailed a case in which Facebook tipped the agency off to messages sent between two users suspected of involvement in sextortion cases that resulted in suicides. One user’s IP address routed back to Lagos, Nigeria, while the other appeared to be based in Kentucky and was the suspected mule.

According to the search warrant, at one point in their Facebook chat, the alleged mule discussed the death of the 14-year-old. “The stress of losing $800 was too much,” he wrote of the boy, according to the FBI. “I didn’t even have a reaction . . . nor care.”

Investigators said the pair discussed the transfer of funds to the American’s bank accounts and payment apps. While the Nigerian user was happy for the American to run PayPal and Zelle, they were particularly determined that the mule use Cash App, an app Forbes recently reported was popular amongst sex traffickers and those perpetrating sextortion. Though the app is not available in Nigeria, it’s easy and fast to move money in and out of Cash App, something police say criminals like as it helps them launder ill-gotten gains.

The investigation also showed how sextortion has become part of a wider, more violent criminal ecosystem. The pair discussed the possible killing of a third party, a woman allegedly tied up in the scam, who the American believed had a part in trying to frame him, according to the law enforcement account. Cops claimed the suspect wrote, “I’m not afraid of killing someone . . . I’m afraid of getting caught.”

The FBI did not provide further details into the case, either in the warrant or when asked by Forbes for comment. As no charges have been filed against the suspects, Forbes is not naming the individuals involved.

Block Inc., the Jack Dorsey-run company that owns Cash App, and in typical Big Tech fashion completely ignored any potential misuse of their product.

Portions from Forbes.com – here is the rest of the article

Can You Just Imagine …

Can you just imagine how traumatizing it would be for the parent of a child that committed suicide to be approached in this way by these criminals?

But it gets worse because the scammer does not even need real photos of the child.

Few parents know the bodies of their teenage children well, so scammers photoshop up porn photos with the face of the child. After all, teens are intense about posting on Facebook and Instagram. So the scammers can invent any pose or position, gay or straight, and use these for blackmail.

What parent would not want to protect the memory of their child? But the criminals are destroying those good memories with this filth.

Not Just Parents …

This method is also being applied to widows/widowers!

Imagine your wife or husband has just died and you get a call from a criminal asking for money. The spouse was having an affair and there are photos! It doesn’t even matter how the spouse died in these cases.

This is actually a very old kind of fraud, but now renewed for the digital age!

The Trauma

The trauma these victims are experiencing is unimaginable but very very real. How can the victim (parent/spouse) ever know what is true from just a scam? On top of losing their loved one, they must also carry these stories and photos in their minds forever!

Reporting

This is why it is so important to report these crimes so that some boundaries can be re-established!

The FBI is very committed to investigating these crimes and they are typically the lead agency in blackmail and extortion.

As with most scams, the way to report this is first with your local police – they are your first responders, then call the FBI by phone: 1-800-CALL-FBI  optionally, you can also report to the FBI at tips.fbi.gov.  Do not use the www.IC3.gov for this type of crime!

Also always report all scams to the FTC at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/?orgcode=SCARS and to SCARS at www.Anyscam.com

You can find more places to report in other countries here: https://romancescamsnow.com/reporting-entity-directory/

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