A Summit County man learned the hard way last month that you can’t always trust people you meet online.
The 21-year-old had been communicating with someone he thought was a woman on Facebook when the person convinced him to send explicit photos of himself through the messenger app, according to the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.
The person demanded money to not make the photos public, so the victim sent $100 through Western Union, a Sheriff’s Office report states. The person then requested an additional $1,000, but the victim refused to send it. The victim filed a report with the Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 26.
Lt. Andrew Wright said reports of people attempting to extort others over social media are becoming increasingly common.
“It’s so easy for people to disguise themselves and have ill intentions,” he said. “Before anyone chooses to engage in that type of risqué behavior, they really ought to know who it is on the other end.”
Wright said it is extremely difficult to identify a suspect in online cases of fraud or extortion. No leads or suspect information were available in the current case.
“The profile can be deleted or it could be something completely fake that someone has generated for the purpose of extorting people,” he said. “The technology these days makes it extremely difficult for law enforcement to track down people who are using the internet or social media to scam people.”
Wright encouraged people to exercise caution when sharing anything online, especially photos or personal information.
“These situations can be very difficult and even embarrassing to report to law enforcement,” he said. “The obvious answer would be to save those exchanges for in person because otherwise you are at their mercy.”