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Beware of Those Who Will Attempt to Take Advantage of You in Online Scams & Frauds Involving Sexual Content

Even before the COVID-19 emergency, our law firm was seeing an uptick of online scams and frauds targeting the unwary. Online scams and frauds have only increased since the onset of COVID-19. These can take the following forms:

    1. Police agencies run sting operations seeking to trap people looking for prostitution or hookups with underage individuals. For many years, law enforcement exploited such websites as Backpage, posting lurid content, including photos, seeking to trick people into making a “date” with a purported prostitute or underage individual, who turns out to be a police officer. Nowadays, they use other platforms, such as Craigslist, Doublelist, Seeking Arrangements, chatrooms, online forums, and filesharing apps, as well as other devices. Beware of situations when you are invited to have contact with a stranger online. The stranger might well turn out to be a law enforcement agent. Even if no meeting is ever arranged, law enforcement attempts to induce the suspect into making incriminating statements, which can be utilized in supporting criminal charges of prostitution, online sexual corruption of a minor, contacting a minor for lewd or indecent purposes, child pornography, or any number of other serious State or Federal criminal charges.
    2. Private individuals have been running scams seeking to lure people into online contacts, which can involve sexting, fantasy story lines, exchanges of child pornography, and attempts to hook up with minors for sexual purposes. Platforms for such activities include dating websites such as Tinder, Grindr, Plenty of Fish, OK Cupid, Bumble, Scruff, Sugar Daddy, Sugar Babies, Whatsyourprice.com, Established Men, and many more. Once an individual takes the bait, the person might be contacted by someone purporting to be associated with law enforcement, or a family member of the child (dad, brother, etc) who may be part of an extortion scheme. Of course, the scammers exploit the individual’s fear, shame and embarrassment, and leverage those emotions to extract money from the target.

We have some advice for anyone who might be prey to these online scams and frauds:

  1. Be very wary of whom you are communicating with online.
  2. Be aware that online sexually charged communication can lead to criminal prosecution.
  3. If you are contacted by law enforcement, the only safe thing you can say is that you WILL NOT SPEAK WITHOUT YOUR ATTORNEY PRESENT.
  4. Remember that police and scammers engage in intimidation and dishonesty to accomplish their purposes.
  5. Do not give law enforcement permission to search your phone or computer or other communication device in the absence of a search warrant.
  6. Even if your phone or communication device is seized, do not give law enforcement your access codes or login information.
  7. Contact a criminal defense attorney immediately if you find yourself under suspicion of criminal activities.
  8. Do not pay blackmail or extortion.

Our law firm serves clients who are facing actual or potential criminal prosecution. Timely consultation with a criminal defense attorney can avoid enormous trouble and expense moving forward. Call or write us if you desire our help.

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