Joanne, the internet sensation, is not the only scammer out there. The internet is a world filled with opportunity, but unfortunately there is also a very dark side. Just last year nearly 200 victims came forward in the “naked pics for cash” scam that was blown wide open by the South African Community Crime Watch (SACCW).
According to reports by IOL, men and women, mostly from Gauteng and Kwa-Zulu Natal, were bribed and threatened after being allegedly contacted via Facebook and WhatsApp, by an attractive woman or man who offered to send naked pictures in return for cash from the victim.
When nudes are sent, things take a turn for the worse for the victims. They were then threatened that their nudes would be posted onto social media unless an immediate payment was made. In cases where they refused to send nudes, they would then photoshop images and add the victims faces to the nude.
“The victims of this scam range across all ages and professions, with the youngest being a 15-year-old boy. A paraplegic man was also targeted”, said SACCW Gauteng head, Mike Venter.
“The perpetrator will take a photo of an attractive male or female off the net and use it as a profile picture. The perpetrator first contact the target on Facebook and from there gains the cell number and the communication starts on WhatsApp.”
“They start up a conversation with the perpetrator offering to send a naked picture and asking for one in return. Some victims have sent pictures, which are then used for extortion, or if the victim has refused, the perpetrator photoshops the victim’s head onto a naked body.”
“Threats are made to put these pictures onto social media. It is very embarrassing for the victim and payments that have been made were done via e-wallet or similar cash methods of payment,” said Venter.
A Pretoria businessman who spoke to IOL on condition of anonymity was caught by the syndicate and paid them.
This woman contacted the businessman on social media. The first thing she asked me was ‘was I naughty? We ended up swopping naked pictures and the next morning she wanted R4000 or she said she was going to put the photos on Facebook and tell my fiancée and her parents.”
“She had taken photos of my fiancée and her parents from my Facebook page. I said I only had R700 on me and I went and made a cash payment. She kept on hounding me for the rest, but I ignored it after that.
“I thought it was a woman, but now I don’t know. I thought I was the only one, but I can say I’ve learned my lesson,” he said.
We can all learn from the Pretoria businessman’s experience. While we can all get carried away by the fun conversations we have and making friends online, there are a number of things we can do to ensure we stay safe and not be another victim of a scam.
- Real recognises real: Firstly, it starts by being your real self, many are not and therefore don’t act responsibly.
- Check mutual friends: Avoid accepting friend requests from people who have no mutual friends.
- Ask mutual friends to verify people before you accept a friend request.
- If at some point you realise that you are speaking to someone who is trying to catfish or scam you, you can report the account here
Remember: Never agree to meet someone you don’t know in real life … and if they choose to do so make sure it’s in a public place.