It’s one of the most sinister scams going around. It plays on men’s memories of “To Catch a Predator” and the fear of even daring to think of getting intimate with an underage girl. It causes them to pay out hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars because they’re too scared to realize that it’s a scam. It can take you to the cleaners financially, and it even drove one Texas man to suicide.
How the underage photos texting scam works
In this scam, which has been going around for several years now, a man makes contact with what he believes is a young woman of legal age via a dating website, Facebook, Craigslist, or some other site. Sometimes he sees an ad and initiates contact. At other times, the supposed woman contacts him first, perhaps claiming to have met him previously at a bar or party. She texts him nude photos and asks for him to send some in return. Some men do and some don’t, but that doesn’t affect the scam’s outcome.
Soon thereafter, an angry-sounding man calls. He claims to be the girl’s father, and sometimes he claims to be a pastor for good measure. He says that the girl slit her wrists and is in the hospital, or that she smashed her phone or laptop after the photos were discovered, or gives some other tale of tragedy or destruction. He claims that he wants to go to the police, or says that his wife is insisting they involve the authorities, but claims he’ll give the man one chance to make things right first. Just wire enough money to cover the hospital bill or the destroyed phone or laptop or whatever supposed damages exist and he’ll forget the whole thing. Sometimes he claims to have already talked to the police and has an accomplice play the role of detective. Of course, the nice police officer is more than willing to go along with the settlement offer. Often the scammers even use the name of a real police detective in the area where they’re pulling the scam.
Unlike many scams that come from foreign countries like Nigeria or India, this one is often pulled by crooks right here in the United States. At least one scammer has been arrested for scamming victims from South Carolina, according to news reports. He was busted back in 2014, yet the scam is still going strong in many different parts of the country. There’s even at least one active number still pulling the scam with a South Carolina area code, according to reports on 800notes.com.
How to handle it
If you get dragged into this type of situation, tell the “father” or “cop” that you know it’s a scam and are reporting it to your local police, then hang up and block the number. Even though you received photos, they were harvested from a porn site, and the girl pictured is likely of legal age and has nothing to do with the whole scenario. Her photos were simply stolen by the scammers. There’s no “teen daughter,” although the crooks might have a female in league with them to talk to you on the phone. It’s all part of the scam. Do not wire any money to anyone, no matter how much they batter you with threats. They may claim you’ll be arrested the next day if you don’t cooperate or that they’ll contact your boss and make you lose your job. They do that to instill a sense of urgency so you act without taking the time to think logically. It’s all part of the con.
Whatever you do, don’t panic like the Texas A & M professor who killed himself after a run-in with the underage photos text scam. According to reports, he initially sent $1000, and the scammers kept demanding more. Eventually he jumped off a roof in desperation because the scammers threatened to ruin his life. His suicide note said, “Killing myself now And u will be prosecuted for blackmail.”
It’s a tragic ending to a hoax in which there never was an underage girl in the first place. Instead of paying the crooks, block them and report them to the authorities. It’s all a sick hoax to get money out of you, but you haven’t committed a crime and there’s no reason to pay.