How to spot extortion scams on LGBTQ+ dating apps
Ari Lazarus, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC
Looking for love on LGBTQ+ dating apps? Scammers are at the ready too.
We’re hearing about scams targeting people on LGBTQ+ dating apps, like Grindr and Feeld. And they aren’t your typical I-love-you, please-send-money
romance scams. They’re extortion scams.
They usually work something like this: a scammer poses as a potential romantic partner on an LGBTQ+ dating app, chats with you, quickly sends explicit photos, and asks for similar photos in return. If you send photos, the blackmail begins. They threaten to share your conversation and photos with your friends, family, or employer unless you pay — usually by
gift card. To make their threats more credible, these scammers will tell you the names of exactly who they plan to contact if you don’t pay up. This is information scammers can find online by using your phone number or your social media profile.
Other scammers threaten people who are “closeted” or not yet fully “out” as LGBTQ+. They may pressure you to pay up or be outed, claiming they’ll “ruin your life” by exposing explicit photos or conversations.
Whatever their angle, they’re after one thing — your money.
If you’re looking for love on dating apps, here are some ways to avoid these scams:
- Check out who you’re talking to. Do a reverse image search of the person’ profile picture to see if it’s associated with another name or with details that don’t match up – those are signs of a scam
- Don’t share personal information with someone you just met on a dating app. That includes your cell phone number, email address, and social media profile
- Don’t pay scammers to destroy photos or conversations. There’s no guarantee they’ll do it.
In fact, the
FBI advises against paying extortion demands, which could support criminal activity.
And remember that, once you share photos, you can’t take them back.
If you think someone is trying to extort you:
Are you under 25 and looking to connect with a counselor at an LGBTQ+ organization about what happened? Reach out to
The Trevor Project. They have free counselors, available 24/7, who can talk to you through their phone, chat and text services.