by Paul Myers
©2022 by Paul Myers, excerpted with permission from his Talkbiz News newsletter.
A 17-year old kid was talking online to someone he thought was a girl who was interested in him. The conversation developed and “she” sent him a nude photo, claiming it was of “herself.”
“She” talked him into sending “her” a compromising pic in return.
The scammer then demanded money from him, with the threat that if he didn’t pay the pics would be posted on social media where his family and friends would see them.
He didn’t have the $5000. The scammer went as low as $150, which he was able to pay. Then they just kept asking for more and upping the pressure.
The kid was terrified. He was sure this would be the end of his literal straight-As, Boy Scout reputation. Like so many teenagers faced with problems they don’t know how to deal with, he thought he’d never get beyond it.
So he killed himself.
It’s called sextortion, and it’s becoming more common.
It’s not new. I was contacted years ago by a woman who had fallen for it. She sent a guy a mildly compromising pic of herself and he demanded more or he’d release the first one.
The situation escalated, and she spent months doing work for the creep online to try to keep the photos private before she approached me about it.
I did what I could to help, but I have no idea how that story ended. I do know she was desperate and genuinely terrified.
It has now become a whole new field of business for the scammers. And it doesn’t just affect teenagers.
If you have teenagers, though, it might be good to share this with them.
Don’t think there’s a private channel where you’re safe with this stuff, either. Anything that can be displayed on a screen can be captured and redistributed.
Yes, even if the program it’s displayed in disables screen captures. All they have to do is take a photo of it. So much for “self-destructing” messages.
This stuff can be life-changing, and not in the good way.
Be careful out there. And remember…
The sexy widowed colonel who just sent you a friend request isn’t sexy, widowed, or a colonel.
Randy here. The FBI says there were over 18,000 sextortion-related complaints made just in 2021. And those are only the cases people had the courage to report.
If you feel embarrassed talking to your kids or grandchildren about things like this, imagine how they feel. Send them the URL to this page:
Short link: https://go.thisistrue.com/scam
Shorter link: https://owowi.com/scam
This awesome teen didn’t have to die. Yours doesn’t either.
And this is just one of many types of online scams actively running today. Help give them a chance by cluing them in, even if it causes you to blush a little. It’s better than the alternative.
Paul Myers, a real-life old friend of mine, is a brilliant writer with keen perception. He has appeared on these pages before (with his kind permission, charging nothing for it), most notably:
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