On November 3, police reported an alarming rise in sextortion on dating apps. With cuffing season in full effect, Pippa Murphy, sex and dating expert at Condoms.uk has a few tips for protecting yourself.
Naturally more singles are gravitating towards apps for the winter which provides fertile ground for cyber bullies and scammers. Sextortion is a” form of blackmail in which scammers trick victims into sharing intimate and explicit images of themselves,” revealed ChronicleLive.
Usually, a “scammer will join a dating app and start forming a connection with another user. Over time, they’ll build their trust by expressing strong romantic feelings. Once they feel the time is right and the victim trusts them, they’ll send a nude photograph claiming it to be them in exchange for one from the victim.” They may even ask the victim to pose live on a webcam or perform for themselves. In these cases, scammers are usually recording the victim. From there, the sensitive material is used to blackmail the victim for money.
These situations are extremely exploitative and corrupt, so to keep your dating app experience safe, Murphy has shared a few tips for protecting yourself so you can date confidently.
Google yourself (and be mindful of what you share).
This might sound off but Googling yourself allows you to see what public information you have available, and how others, in this case, scammers, perceive you. Also, be mindful of spilling all your tea on the first date. As Murphy shared, “Never share your full name as they can find your social media profiles, making it easier to blackmail you. And naturally, you should never share your home address until you’re more serious and meet many times in person.”
Always keep conversations on the dating app.
Have you ever started talking to someone and they seemed too eager to move the conversation off of the app? A major red flag in the case of sextortion. “Dating apps keep records of your messages and could, therefore, be used as evidence to prosecute a scammer,” Murphy revealed. This also allows you more control. For example, if you block them, they can’t just text you or reach you on LinkedIn.
Reverse image search your match’s profile photo.
“Whilst this may seem like an extreme step, it could save you a lot of time, heartbreak and money if it turns out that they’re a scammer. If the results do show that they belong to someone else, you should instantly stop all communication and report their profile.”
No. “If they seem to fall for you hard and fast, then this could be another sign that they’re planning on scamming you,” Murphy shared. It’s completely realistic to think that someone would be head over heels after the first conversation. After all, you are amazing. But if someone’s “overly charismatic and charming,” be alert.
Murphy shared the perfect example of a red flag: “They say they’ve ‘never felt like this before’ or talk about getting married and having children, despite having never met or only a couple of times.
Never send nudes to someone you just met, or only met a few times.
Relationships change and trust, you don’t want to be on the sextortion side. Take time to vet people, listen to your gut and be mindful of the tips above.