Porn scams rise during coronavirus: 3 ways to stay safe

Business News | 15 Sep |

A new report shows traffic to porn sites has skyrocketed during Coronavirus which has led to an increase in porn-related and sextortion scams.

SocialCatfish.com, a company that verifies online identities to help people avoid being defrauded, today released a report on Porn Scams to Avoid During Coronavirus based on data from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), Better Business Bureau and Pornhub.

On February 24, prior to COVID-19 stay at home orders, Pornhub saw a .7% decrease in traffic compared to an average day. On March 17, they reported a 6.4% increase and by July 10 traffic increased by 20.1%.

With more Americans staying home and watching porn, scam artists have begun to seize on the opportunity.

Here are the 3 most common porn scams to avoid: 

1)  SEXTORTION BLACKMAIL EMAILS: Scammers are sending emails to victims stating that they have installed malware on their computer that has tracked what type of porn they are watching, and even recorded them pleasuring themselves.  Scammers then request thousands of dollars or threaten to release the video and porn preferences to the victims’ phone contacts. Many victims have gotten scared and sent the money. However, the scammers then come back and say the price has gone up and keeps threatening them until their bank account is badly depleted. The Better Business Bureau recorded 32 reports of this scam in April and the IC3 saw an uptick as well.

How to Avoid: Do not send anyone money for any reason.  For peace of mind, ask the scammer for proof that they know your porn history and have a video of you. The reality is, this is a common scam and they have nothing to blackmail you with. Install security software which will confirm if you have been infected by malware and fix any issues. Keep webcams covered when you are not using them. This will ensure that no one can see you without your permission. Block the person demanding money and contact local law enforcement if the threats and blackmail continue.

2) PREMIUM GIRLS VENMO SCAM: Dating app traffic has increased during COVID-19. Scammers are taking advantage of loneliness by matching with their victims on these apps and telling them to follow them on social media such as Snapchat. Once victims add the scammer on Snapchat, they are told it is a premium account and money must be sent via Venmo to access their explicit pictures.  Once the person Venmo’s the money, the scammer either blocks them without sending pictures or sends pictures and keeps demanding more money.

How to Avoid: Do not give anyone your personal information. Scammers use this information to commit identity fraud and steal your hard-earned funds. Do not open any random links sent you. By clicking on these links, scammers infect your device with malware and viruses that hack into your computer and steal your personal information.  If you suspect you are being scammed, block them immediately so they cannot contact you.

3) MINOR SCAM: Scammers impersonating young girls are matching with men on dating apps saying they are over 18 years old. They say they do not like chatting on the app and ask to exchange phone numbers and photos. The scammer then tells the victim that they are only 16 years old and most normal victim get scared and block them. The problem is that the scammer still has their phone number and they create another fake phone number and call the victim pretending to be the girl’s dad. They threaten to call the cops for soliciting a minor unless the victim sends them money.

How to Avoid: The “girl” sending you selfies or naughty pictures could be a creepy criminal instead. Just because they send pictures does not make them real. Meeting them in person is always a smart way to truly try to make sure your online connection is real. Never send explicit pictures of yourself. The scammer will use this for additional blackmail material.  Law enforcement is aware of the “minor scam” so if you believe you are being targeted they can help track down the scammers and press charges if necessary.

If you encounter a coronavirus scam, contact local law enforcement or file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center by clicking here.

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