SMYRNA — Smyrna Police Department issued a public warning about recent online dating web site scams and threats of extortion from supposed law enforcement officers.
According to SPD spokesman Cpl. Brian M. Donner, the agency received at least two confirmed complaints within the past two weeks from victims not living in Smyrna.
The scam involves persons who exchange explicit photos with suspects posing as young women after meeting online, followed by contact from alleged Smyrna Police officers demanding money to avoid arrest, Cpl. Donner said.
The scammers falsely claim to be police conducting an investigation for exchanging photos with underage females, police said.
Authorities stressed to the public that “police will never solicit money from them during an investigation or as a way to avoid arrest.”
Police said suspects typically request untraceable sources of money such as Green Dot cards, Pay Pal or other payments.
Cpl. Donner said the scam is not believed to be unique to Smyrna and is a nationwide trend.
“We are unaware if anyone has actually paid the scammers yet,” Cpl. Donner said.
“Although, with this scam likely not being a local one, it is more likely then not that somewhere in the country, someone has been duped and paid.”
Police said citizens contacted by purported Smyrna Police officers can call 911 or the department’s dispatch center at 653-9217 24 hours a day, seven days a week. SPD Detective Bill Davis is investigating the case.
Police said it is a crime to view, share or possess explicit photos or material of underage persons.
Police “are notified of online scams nearly daily,” Cpl. Donner said.
“They generally follow the national trends. I.e. foreign lottery, sending of fake checks for pennies on the dollar in return from your real bank account, your relative is in trouble overseas or out of town and needs immediate money etc. I could fill an entire newspaper page with the various scams that have been reported. Internet crime such as these scams is rampant.”
Police said the nature of the scam determines what specific crimes are being committed.
The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center is available online at www.ic3.gov.
“Reports can be made and persons can search the wide gamut of schemes/scams known to authorities to confirm their criminal nature,” Cpl. Donner said.